Art Institute Student Speaks Out

Another big controversy occurring at Art Institute which the Brew has been writing about:

Tracy, who has taught drawing and digital painting for eleven years at AIC—Orange County, felt that his class didn’t require the textbooks he was suddenly being asked to sell and told the school that he would prefer to teach without them. Tracy’s reward for working in the best interest of his cash-strapped, loan-burdened students was a termination notice from the school.

And now a student is speaking out:

 I am one of these students. I was accepted, enrolled and taking classes in less than a month’s time, regardless of the fact that my family had little to no credit and that I had very low income. They guaranteed me that my tuition would be covered by this miracle drug called the Education Finance Loan. I was approved for this loan when all other lenders turned me down for my lack of credit, and I foolishly thought I would be able to finish school without a problem. I was wrong.

Stay away from these schools.

Soldier On.



27 Responses to Art Institute Student Speaks Out

  1. Dave Rand says:

    Thank you for posting this.

  2. Scott R says:

    Its totally 100% true… On the presidents Linked In account he only talks about his enrollment stats and how he made the company more money…nothing about education or caring about students success.

  3. Mark D says:

    Education and for-profit schools are a conflict of interest. I wish I’d known that before I went to the Academy of Art.

  4. DucttapedOtisGrad says:

    All private for profit Art schools should be investigated! Taking out a student loan at an art school is like taking out a loan to become a doctor or a lawyer which is ridiculous!!

    • edwardh says:

      Huh? I was under the impression that students have to pay for ALL higher education in North America? I’ve never come across a university that didn’t have tuition fees of thousands of dollars. Alright, I’m not from the US or Canada and I’ve only looked at a few but still… combine my little experience with all that I’ve ever read/heard and it really seems that way.

  5. ukVFX says:

    This is a warning for us here in Europe – resist the profit motive in education. It’ll only end badly…

  6. LMP says:

    Wait a minute here,


    2.- There are no or few “non-profit” school teaching these programs (USC film school can reach 200K easily). Community colleges are charging premium fees for popular classes

    3.- Student loans are given on a different credit criteria. Supposedly the future income potential. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves in the prospective future, hence the beginning of the corrupt world of “for profit schools”… So, in the case of VFX, just a few years back the income potential and job market growth (kind of) justified getting into the student loan madness. Little did I know that VFX industry was going this wrong… well, everything has gone wrong in the world due to greed and us letting the banks take control of everything. I gambled and I’m not winning the bet, so far. In my opinion, the “Student speaking out” above did not make any research..No one forced him/her to sign..

    4.- The Art Institute was a “fine” school for 80 years and there are great instructors still hanging in there. When Goldman Sachs bought the AI parent company “EDMC” was when everything went to hell.. The “president” of AI Orange County is one of the first bank AH to come in to the new Goldman Sachs era of the school, so he’s just a bank teller…

    5.- It is our job and responsibility as citizens to change the status quo. Get active, proactive, realize the source of the problems then we all should UNION together and say no the general abuse going on in our country.

    6.- Stop thinking me first and to blame others for our own shortcomings. They first divided us and have been controlling our lives at their will for too long..

    • Devin Fairbairn says:

      Theres a real problem with this whole “stop blaming others” and “no one forced you to sign”. It demeans the arguments against this broken system. I don’t believe that people are asking for hand outs, I certainly am not expecting any. They are simply calling foul. Because regardless of personal decision making, the fouls are prevalent.

      With all these mutual and similar experiences we are seeing a pattern here. Which truly means one thing….predatory. No one is asking for hand outs, they are asking for accountability from everyone at the table. They asking for a fair system. Being understanding enough to see that not everyone is going to have the foresight and the excellent research ability to properly select the right educational path. These schools spend alot of money swaying market opinion and preventing negative press and comments.

      We all need to succeed, not just a select few, if we are going to pull through this.

  7. Caleb R. Owens says:

    I did some teaching at AI for a short time. The instructors and employees are generally good people trying to make a difference, the issue is the institution. I had many students that were pressed in similar manners. “Tech art “schools like these are a difficult situation. There are students that are on the fringe and for whatever reason have difficulty getting in to mainstream accredited colleges. Sometimes schools like AI can be beneficial to that kind of student. The issue is that these schools prey on these kind of students. They are the perfect consumer for them to sell their goods. What, you couldn’t get in to Cal Arts? We can get you a job! Just pay us lots of money.

    At the end of the day, Ai, Full Sail, and the like are big money makers, big business, hence DD Inst Florida. I’m not sure DD Inst Los Angeles would have the same enrollment as starry eyed kids as Florida, another genius move on the not so bright Florida tax payers.

    Florida has consistently cut art and music programs from educational institutions year after year, Florida Atlantic University had the first ever program in Florida for computer arts/animation, it was an amazing program started by the Poet Laureate of Florida Dr. Ed Skellings, who recently passed. They fought to get money every year to keep it alive, yet 130+ million goes to DD. It’s mind blowing. But this is the brilliance of Florida. Most people are clueless and don’t really care, its the perfect place to run from the law, retire or make a lot of cash off the backs of the lazy tax payers.

    I have a feeling these schools and the digital animation aspect will soon hit critical mass if it hasn’t already. There are only so many animators to work on the next Pixar movie.
    While some of these schools deserve to be scrutinized for things like subsidies and massive fees, there are plenty that do a really good job at educating future artist and offer honest solid perspectives.

    The current explosion of digital animation schools is very similar to the graphic design boom in the 80s. Eventually, that died too. Next big thing? Cell animation.

  8. Devin Fairbairn says:

    The issue with the books was prevalent at Full Sail as well. I wont be so bold as to say they are getting kick backs for requiring the literature be provided to the students through their tuition; however, I did have around 40 books that was provided to me (included in said tuition) and only one book was utilized in one of their classes. Interestingly enough, the author was the course director for the class. M

    • Devin Fairbairn says:

      Rather off topic, updating my imdb the other day, I noticed that under the “trivia section” someone had put in “Full Sail Graduate”. Blew me away.

  9. theVFXcinic says:

    Seriously these schools are BS. I went to expression in emeryville. the program I was in was sub par. While others seem better. Some teachers were not qualified and had not even worked in the industry. At all. Im pretty sure the program director was pretty clueless about the vfx biz in general,. I knew Id be in a shit ton a debt. I dont know what I was thinking. but At least I have confidence in my skills…. Online training is the way to go. It wasn’t as great then as it is now. but the burden of debt and the flimsily education are not worth it. Stay away from these institution of misery! Oh yeah, If you wanted answers you usually had to find them your self.

  10. Zorky says:

    They fired Mike??!! This is the guy who made that school worth anything. The fact that he’s out of there means: 1) he stuck to his guns and was looking out for the interest of the students, as he always has, and 2) the institution has gotten so much worse than it already was when I left.

    AiCAOC is a total, complete scam. They have 0 interest in the craft and students. Their sole mission is to prey on kids for money. It’s the maw of a machine that makes kids slaves to a financial institution.

    If it weren’t for Mike, that school would have been a complete regret. F**k Ai and F**k the AiCAOC president! We need alumni to protest the doorstep of that institution and wake these kids up.

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