Art Institute of Tampa grad accuses school of fraud

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Former students of for-profit colleges, like Art Institute and ITT, are filing for federal student loan debt forgiveness in record numbers.

The US Department of Education confirms to News Channel 8 that more than 7,500 claims totaling more than $160 million were filed by late last year.

Art Institute of Tampa graduate Sydney Andrade is preparing his claim package. He says he graduated owing more than $80,000

“If what was actually promised to be the education and what was promised to be my curriculum actually panned out the way they said it would, I would gladly pay for this,” says Andrade, who now lives in Austin, Texas.

Andrade accuses the school of lying about qualified instructors and industry-standard learning tools. He adds this forced him to teach himself much of what he knows through video game art and design YouTube videos. He also tells News Channel 8 the school didn’t deliver on an in-field job placement promise. Andrade claims the school helped him get an $8 per hour job making copies at Office Depot, which doesn’t require a college degree.

“What the art institute considers the fields for game art and design includes Game Stop, Office Depot,” says Andrade, who tells 8 On Your Side that he has recruiting catalogs to prove their promises.

Andrade joins thousands of students nationwide claiming fraud at for-profit colleges, but some current students aren’t so sure.

Current Art Institute of Tampa student Javier Amaya explains, “The school can only do so much, and you as a student need to do the rest.”

“When you sign up to pay for that [school] I think you’re obligated to pay it back,” adds fellow student Vincent Hayman.

Documents provided by the US Department of Education to News Channel 8 show more than 1,000 claims were paid out as of late last year; five of those tied to Florida schools.

The Art Institute’s parent company, EDMC, won’t discuss individual student claims, but tells News Channel 8 it has agreed on more transparent recruiting and disclosure standards, adding that this is not an admission of wrongdoing. The US Department of Education continues investigating claims.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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