Anthem College shuts its doors in Minnesota

  • Article by: MAURA LERNER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 25, 2014 - 10:22 PM

Anthem College in St. Louis Park is 2nd in state to close this year.

Anthem College, a health-career school in St. Louis Park, has quietly closed shop after 18 years in Minnesota.

It’s the second for-profit college to fold its operation in Minnesota this year, in what has become a summer of struggles for corporate-owned career schools.

Anthem, which offered training programs for massage therapists and medical assistants, shut its doors June 30 in the face of plunging enrollment, officials confirmed Friday.

The school made no public announcement of the closing. But spokesman Ryan Toohey said the owner, Anthem Education, took steps to ensure that the 190 remaining students would have a chance to transfer or complete their degrees before the doors closed.

The enrollment had dropped from a high of 540 students in 2012, according to data reported to the state.

Toohey said that Anthem, which owned 43 colleges nationwide, recently announced that it may sell or close a third of its campuses as part of a larger “financial restructuring.”

Two weeks ago, another medical career school, the Everest Institute in Eagan, announced that it will shut down as a result of a federal probe of its owner, Corinthian Colleges. Corinthian, which faced a crackdown on its financial aid practices, agreed to close or sell more than 100 campuses.

And this week, Minnesota’s attorney general sued for-profit colleges Globe University and Minnesota School of Business, accusing them of consumer fraud.

Larry Pogemiller, Minnesota’s higher education commissioner, said that for-profit colleges are facing intensified scrutiny now, and many are struggling financially, as well.

“Enrollments are declining, and that’s really what’s happening,” he said. During the recession, he noted, many nontraditional students flooded into college, and for-profit schools expanded to accommodate them. “Now there’s kind of a fallout here,” he said, and many schools are laying off staff, cutting prices or even closing.

“As the economy improves, there’s not that same flow of students,” he said.

Anthem’s Minnesota campus, which opened in 1996 under the name High-Tech Institute, had one of the highest six-year graduation rates (66 percent) and lowest student-loan default rates of all for-profit colleges in Minnesota, according to a 2013 report from the state Office of Higher Education. It offered certificates and two-year associate degrees in several health fields.

But in February, the school notified the state that it would be “winding down” by the end of June, said Betsy Talbot, the student advocate at the state higher education office. She said her office worked with Anthem officials to set up a transition plan for the remaining students. She said she has not received any complaints from students about the closing.

Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384

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