Thousands of Argosy students shorted in financial aid

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Argosy University students gathered in outrage to protest on Tuesday afternoon, after the Department of Education suspended the university, and some Art Institute campuses, for not meeting their financial obligations.

Weeks into the spring semester, students at Argosy, a chain of career schools owned by the nonprofit Dream Center Education Holdings, may be shutting down.

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit has set out to transform failing for-profit colleges into successful nonprofit schools, but could not meet its financial obligations and in January entered into receivership, a form of bankruptcy.

Argosy failed to distribute $16.3 million in federal aid to thousands of its students, and chances are the students won't get the money.

Argosy operates16 campuses in 11 different states. Students here in Chicago said they were even encouraged to quit their full time and part time jobs to focus on getting their degree. For those who were relying on their stipends to pay their bills, they're now unable to afford the basics.

"Students rely on this financial aid," said Zayna Achner. "People are not paying their rent and having to skip meals, and are not able to pay their living expenses and that's just not OK."

Indra Gonzalez was supposed to get $5,000 this spring semester, so she quit her part-time job to focus on school. Now she can't pay her bills.

"I'm stuck in this limbo," said Gonzalez.

Argosy has about 17,600 students pursuing associates, bachelors, and graduate degrees in fields such as psychology and education. Some who were close to receiving their diplomas don't know if their credits will transfer to other programs.

"I've already reached out to other institutions, but herein lies the problem with telling a student who's been here four years that only two courses were transferred; where do you get the rest of the money?" said Angela Champ.

The Department of Education has agreed to relieve the students of their debt for the spring semester, but the main concern is continuing their education, and paying their bills outside of school.

Argosy has until March 11 to file an appeal.
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