Education

I Got Screwed at Argosy University and Now Not Happy With South University

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

My enrollment for college stemmed from filling out online job applications for numerous attempts to gaining employment.

I was bombarded by college recruiters and eventually signed up with Argosy University online.

I was still attending Argosy at the time they closed and then was talked into transferring to South University online as a transfer student to finish my degree.

I was due to graduate with my associate’s degree the month Argosy officially closed. After signing on with South University I was informed the degree required more credits and that with the same amount of credits still needed I was better off going for the bachelor’s degree.

I was assigned a new financial aid advisor at the beginning of the year and after months of avoided questions, failed attempts to be reached, redirected run-a-rounds, and the loss of important grants due to school closings.

I was told that none of my concerns or questions were within the criteria of my financial aid advisor’s job description. In the end, I find myself, after 3 years of school (give or take), 60 credits short of a degree, having used up a lifetime worth of FSFA and left to the wayside of my college, as it is not the school’s job to help even point me in the direction of what to do next.

I feel as though I have been deceived by both schools in the most predatory way. All I have to show for my hard work is a massive debt for something I cannot even use.

Is there anything I can file to RECOVER the money from my FASFA that Argosy University took? What can I file to right this situation?

Brandy

Answer:

Dear Brandy,

Thank you for trusting me with your question and to give you an honest answer.

I think we need to start out with what the modern school is primarily focused on. And it’s barely education.

Argosy and others like it sometimes seem to put more emphasis on making the sale than a similar level of concern about student success.

Titles like a counselor, financial aid advisor, and representative are often just friendlier terms for commissioned salesperson.

Being a salesperson for a school is not a bad thing. Where it becomes a disconnect is when the student is under the impression they are being advised in a way that best represents the needs of a student.

For example, when you go to purchase a vehicle you understand the role of the salesperson is to sell you the vehicle and not advise you what vehicle is best to meet your needs. You understand the salesperson is trying to sell you something and make the sale so they earn a commission.

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It is plausible that when you completed online job applications that one of those events triggered your name to appear on a marketing list that schools jumped on. They targeted you with salespeople to sell you a spot in their school.

The sales pitch from Argosy University was the most attractive to you so you make a purchase of promised education from them. But the title of a past post is so very true, “The People Who Get Hurt the Most are Students and Faculty in University Failures.”

Here is the second unfortunate event.

When Argosy University closed with you still enrolled, you were eligible for a 100 percent forgiveness of your Argosy University student loan debt.

As the Department of Education says, “you may be eligible for a 100-percent discharge of your Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program Loans, or Federal Perkins Loans you have taken for your program under either of these circumstances:

  • Your school closed while you were enrolled, and you didn’t complete your program because of the closure. If you were on an approved leave of absence, you’re considered to have been enrolled at the school.
  • Your school closed within 120 days after you withdrew.

And here is the kicker that might not be such great news.

If I enroll (by transferring academic credits or hours earned from my closed school) in a comparable program at another school for the purpose of completing the program for which a loan was made at my closed school, can I still receive a closed school loan discharge?

No. You may not receive a closed school loan discharge if you completed or are in the process of completing a comparable program of study at the new institution.” – Source

But Don’t Assume

I want you to double-check my opinion about the situation. I urge you to. The Department of Education gives advice on how to do that.

Who can I contact to address concerns about my federal student aid experience?

You should contact Federal Student Aid online at StudentAid.gov/feedback or by calling 1-844-651-0077 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Eastern time if you are:

  • attempting to enroll at another institution and your eligibility for federal student aid is being impacted by the funds disbursed at one of the institutions listed above, or
  • owed a credit balance refund that you have not received. This information is needed so that ED can confirm information provided by Argosy and The Art Institutes about the number of outstanding credit balance refunds.
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South University

I don’t know what South University program you are enrolled in, or where. But the graduation rates of students within eight years of enrolling is not awesome.

South University Graduation Rates

You said, “it is not the school’s job to help even point me in the direction of what to do next” and while I understand that could be the position because they already made the sale, I would personally disagree a school should do that.

In a perfect world, and in my experience in attending college years ago, the role of the student adviser was to guide the student on what they needed to do to get the most out of their college education.

Even back in the late 1970s, advisers were not perfect. I’m still a little bitter about my adviser letting me enroll in a chemistry class without anyone telling me there was a lab class that went with it. I went through an entire semester without anyone in class even mentioning to me that they didn’t see me in the lab. LOL.

Back then I trusted my adviser and it never occurred to me to double-check and verify what they told me was factual. So you see, I’m not criticizing you, I did the same thing.

You can appreciate the fact South University said, “none of my concerns or questions were within the criteria of my financial aid advisor’s job description.”

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Sadly it looks like you ran into a brick wall rather than being directed to a South University adviser that had your educational needs as their primary job responsibility.

I did scour the South University website looking that kind of help but could not find any link to such a person. I did find a statement that said, “South University provides a warm, supportive learning environment that will encourage you to engage with a community of faculty, staff and students eager to play a role in helping you achieve your educational goals, on campus and online.” – Source

I would bet you disagree with that statement given your experience.

Bottom Line

So here is what I would humbly suggest. Contact the Department of Education with the information above. Talk to them and share your personal situation.

After you talk to them, come back and update me in the comments section below and we can take it from there.

Sound like a plan?

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

4 Comments

  • Brandy, if you’re not smart enough to know that online, for-profit schools are almost always a rip-off and have no impact at all on your ability to get a good job, maybe you’re not ready for college. In contrast, if you want a low-cost, good quality education that WILL help you in the future, your local, taxpayer-financed community college is ALWAYS your best bet.

    • While I don’t disagree that there are some amazing local community colleges around that are extremely affordable, this is really a more complex issue. In general, everything is geared towards pushing people to assume that a four-year school is somehow better. Between counselors in school, to peer beliefs, to parental pressure, the deck can get stacked against the person deciding that the promises made you the school salesperson are factual and sound.

      We’ve come a long way from just being able to graduate from high school, go to college, and get a better future. When you could afford to pay for each semester as you went along, that was one thing. But because of the unbelievable cost of higher education, going to school today is absolutely mortgaging your future.

      Somehow we need to break the chain of assumptions but counting on the 18-year-old to be the smartest person in the room on these issues is probably not going to be a winning strategy.

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