US Government Sues Art Institutes for $ 11 Billion Fraud

The Art Institutes, one of the nation’s largest for-profit school systems where people can get an education in photography, has come under fire. Last month, the US Department of Justice. filed a massive lawsuit against the company behind the schools, Educational Management Corporation, accusing him of fraudulently collecting $ 11 billion in government aid by recruiting low-income students for the purpose of collecting student aid money. The whistleblowers claim that students graduate burdened with debt and without the means to repay loans, which are then repaid with taxpayer dollars.

David Walker in PDN writes,

On the Art Institute of Pittsburgh campus alone, there were reportedly about 600 photography students pursuing a bachelor of arts or associate degree as of last summer, says Kathleen A. Bittel, the whistleblower whose testimony before a committee of the The United States Senate last fall helped spark the lawsuit against EDMC.

[…] “Where are 600 graduates in photography going? You can’t absorb that many in one city. How are they going to make money? ” she says.

Bittel says EDMC had plans last summer to increase enrollment for photography students by adding a 12-15 month diploma to the program. The new degree was intended to appeal to students who wanted a “quick fix” in the form of a degree that they could obtain faster than an associate degree with minimal effort, Bittel says. “If undergraduate students can’t find a job, where are the students with [12-month diplomas] you’re going? “

One former student they contacted commented that “it’s like they’re taking out the photographers like little cookie cutters.”

The Art Institutes: Legitimate Photography Schools or Accessories to Fraud? (via DWF)

Image Credit: California Art Institute – San Francisco for sebastianjt

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