Confusion, Frustration as Argosy University Prepares to Close Its Doors

Mar 8, 2019

FILE: Argosy University's 22 campuses nationwide are set to close on Friday, pending a court decision.
Credit Argosy University Facebook Page

Argosy University is expected to permanently close its doors today. The private university has 22 campuses around the country, including three in Hawaii. Earlier this week, Argosy said it would likely cease operations at the end of the week, sending students and faculty scrambling.

At the university’s Downtown Honolulu campus, confusion and frustration were in the air, as students attempted figure their options. Many were face with the prospect of having to repeat courses or even start over at a new university.

Argosy held two transition fairs for students to help them plan for the closure. Other local colleges and state agencies were on hand to outline the options for transferring credits and carrying over financial aid.

For some, Argosy’s closure represents more than just a set back to their educational aspirations. Student veterans like Jamey Swiney, who are relying on the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill to pay for living expenses face an uncertain future once Argosy shuts down.

“My roommate doesn’t have another income besides the monthly housing allowance from the G.I Bill. So I don’t know how we’re going to get through the lease unless I start paying more.”

Argosy University, which is owned by the Pennsylvania-based non-profit Dream Center Education Holdings, has been in federal receivership since January. In a written statement Mark Dottore, the court-appointed receiver for DCEH said

We have been working day and night since the institution entered into receivership to find the best path forward for students at Argosy University, Hawaii and are doing everything that we can to save the campus.

 If the campus is not acquired by another higher education institution, or another institution does not agree to teach out the programs, upon court approval, it will close on Friday, March 8, 2019.

 We are working with students, accreditors, state regulators and the U.S. Department of Education to provide as many options as possible for students, to include transfer to another higher education institution or student loan discharge.”

Argosy’s imminent closure has attracted nationwide attention from public officials, media, and industry groups. The American Psychological Association has been one of the most vocal groups, advocating for loan discharge from the U.S. Department of Education.

Christine Grus, Chief of Education for the APA, told HPR that Argosy has 8 accredited doctoral programs in psychology. Grus estimated that the closure will affect between 1,000 and 1,200 APA student members, some of whom may have to completely restart their degrees.

Xena Ewing is one of those psychology doctoral students at Argosy’s Honolulu campus. She described the situation as “a giant mess.” Ewing was about to defend her dissertation when news of the closure hit. She is now relying on her professors to work pro bono to fulfill that graduation requirement.

Ewing may be one of the lucky ones. She is far enough along in her program that she will be able to finish on time with another university. That is not the case for students who are few years behind. According to Ewing, first second, and even third year doctoral candidates may have to start over entirely at another program.

The financial costs for such a delay are potentially substantial. Argosy’s 40-month doctoral program in psychology costs more than $60,000 in tuition and fees, not to mention living expenses.

The APA has been lobbying for the Department of Education to forgive loans for courses that will need to be repeated. In a statement on Friday, the department said

The Education Department is working quickly to provide students the information and resources they need to either have their loans discharged or to find another institution where they can finish their program should the school close.   

Even if for some reason the schools do not officially close, ED has begun the process to identify those Argosy and Ai students that were disbursed a federal direct student loan for the current term and is in the process of cancelling them.”

It is unclear if loans for previous terms will be forgiven, should students need to repeat them. The Department of Veterans Affairs has indicated that payments, including housing stipends, will cease once the Argosy shuts down. Veterans will need to apply for a hardship waiver to have payments continue.

Native Hawaiian Argosy student Lance Lincoln had some advice for his fellow students struggling with the transition.

“These kinds of things just happen. Don’t get discouraged and strive for your dreams. Kulia I ka nu’u…strive for the highest.”

Argosy students can find infromation from the State of Hawaii here.

Information for requesting transcripts can be found here

Update: As of Monday March 11th, all Argosy Unviersity campuses nationwide have closed.

Hawaii Pacific University is preparing a plan to potenetially absorb Argosy Unviersity Hawaii's doctoral psychology program. Interested students should contact Dr. Katherine Aumer at kaumer@hpu.edu.

Update: As of 7 pm Eastern Time March 8th, the following Argosy campuses are permanently closed:

-Denver

-Inland Empire

-Nashville

-San Diego

-Sarasota

-Schaumburg