Argosy University’s Eagan campus will close Friday after weeks of uncertainty for the troubled for-profit network.
John Slama, the campus president, wrote students Wednesday that Argosy will shutter the campus if it does not find a buyer by Friday. But on Thursday, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education made it official, saying Argosy leaders have confirmed this week’s closure.
Roughly 1,000 local students at Argosy, which specializes in career training, had braced for this news as its parent company went into receivership, a kind of bankruptcy, and got cut off from getting federal and state financial aid for its students. Students in Eagan and nationally have reported that Argosy withheld grant and loan dollars it was supposed to pass on to them, apparently to help cover its operating expenses. The university owes more than $1.3 million to Minnesota students, according to the state Office of Higher Education.
In response to an interview request Thursday, Argosy parent company Dream Center Education Holdings provided a statement from Mark Dottore, Argosy’s court-appointed receiver, affirming the Eagan campus would close unless a buyer comes forward or another institution steps in so current students can finish their studies.
“We have been working day and night since the institution entered into receivership to find the best path forward for students at Argosy University, Twin Cities, and are doing everything that we can to save the campus,” he said.
Sandy Connolly, a spokeswoman with the Office of Higher Education, said that the state helped with efforts to line up another institution that would keep the campus open until students finish their degrees. But she said, “None of these arrangements worked out.”
As of Thursday, no viable buyer has been found, which led the state to announce the Eagan campus would close.
Argosy announced it was hosting transfer fairs Thursday and Friday for students who have more than one year left of their programs. For students who have less than a year left to complete their studies, state officials will announce “teach-out” options to finish their programs elsewhere.
The Office of Higher Education said a delay in Argosy’s closure announcement will likely cause disruptions and delays for students looking to graduate in the next year.
Nicole Knutson, a dental hygiene student on the Eagan campus, said after weeks of nerve-racking uncertainty, the closure announcement Thursday brought something akin to relief — but also little clarity about what’s next for her and her classmates. Knutson, who was slated to graduate next year, said Thursday’s transfer fair was “a complete waste of time.” Of two colleges with dental hygiene programs present, one couldn’t offer any specifics about transferring and the other had only two spots available for the fall semester.
Knutson said Argosy has withheld $2,100 in publicly subsidized aid from her — dollars she counted on to help with the purchase of dental cleaning instruments and living expenses.
“The money does matter, but not as much as our dreams and our future,” she said. “This will be left in our hands to figure out how we are going to finish out our programs.”
A string of private for-profit colleges in Minnesota have closed in recent years due to financial mismanagement or legal troubles, including Globe University/Minnesota School of Business, ITT Technical Institute and the McNally Smith College of Music.
In 2017, Dream Center, a Los Angeles-based Christian nonprofit, bought the Argosy network in hopes of converting the schools into nonprofits. But the plan has floundered, and some campuses have closed.
Last week, the federal government disqualified the university’s students from receiving publicly subsidized loans and other aid. Soon after, Minnesota ended the Eagan campus’ participation in state grant and loan programs starting May 30. At issue are an estimated $16 million in loan credit-balance payments — federal dollars some students borrow beyond the cost of tuition and fees to help with living expenses — that Argosy has withheld from students. In Minnesota, the campus has also failed to pass on so-called SELF loans that students have taken out.