TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – While hundreds of Argosy University Tampa students continue to wait for financial aid withheld from them, a clearer picture of their parent company’s financial turmoil is emerging.
The U.S. Department of Education is not satisfied with answers provided so far.
Liz Hill, press secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, provided this statement to Better Call Behnken:
The Department is deeply concerned that the receiver and the institution are currently unable to fully account for the funds disbursed by the Department to pay student account balances. This puts the institution in violation of our standards and puts the institution’s Title IV access in serious jeopardy.
Our focus is on helping students continue their education. The Department is working quickly to provide immediate relief for students by forgiving loans made to them this semester and by helping students who wish to enroll at another institution to finish their program do so. Students who wish to have the entirety of their loan balance forgiven could be eligible should the institution close and students choose not to complete their program elsewhere.
“It’s coming at me like a fire hose,” says Mark Dottore, the court appointed receiver, charged with taking control of a financial mess from Argosy parent company, California-based Dream Center Educational Holding, LLC.
Dottore, appointed by a federal judge in Ohio, flew to Tampa this week to talk with students and staff.
He says Dream Center leaders spent students’ financial aid stipends last month on things like payroll.
Public records Dottore provided to 8 On Your Side show he’s found just $3.8 million in the school’s bank account.
To put that in perspective, a letter he wrote to the U.S. Department of Education show the schools owe $13 million to students alone.
Adding to his daunting task, Dottore says two other Dream Center schools are in trouble, too.
“I’ve got 40,000 students that I’m responsible for, not just in the Argosy system, there’s South University and there’s another group of art schools,” Dottore said.
Students aren’t the only ones suffering.
Nicholas Jammal is Argosy Tampa’s landlord. He says Argosy is nearly four months behind on rent, and he’s hoping Dottore will find a way to pay him.
Meanwhile, Dottore says the people responsible for misappropriating the students’ money will eventually be held responsible. However, he says his main concern right now is to secure the money need to pass along to students.
He says the U.S. Department of Education agreed to release additional funds that would have been used for other university needs. He says he’s hopeful students will get the money next week.