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Submitted on
March 2, 2010


27,004 (15 today)
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The goal of this group is to raise awareness of the fact that the heavily advertised "Art Institutes" are not real art schools, but corporate owned diploma mills that exploit young people’s dreams to sell fake education for ungodly amounts of money. I went briefly and dropped out after realizing my $120,000 ‘education’ was not going to get me a job anywhere or allow me entrance to a Grad school. Their over 40 locations are owned by the Education Management Corporation(EDMC) which is possibly the main villain in today’s corporate education scam. They have been sued many times, but are still in operation and growing. Now they have several other chains of schools other than the Art Institutes (Brown Mackie College, Southern University, Western State University, and Argosy University). In order to destroy them we must make sure everyone knows about this awful scheme so that they lose business and shut down on their own.


As the majority of DeviantArt is people who are interested in art, and around the age of choosing a college, I feel this is a relevant issue to make a group about here. Especially since it is impossible not to see “ART INSTITUTE OF PITTSBURGH” flashing all over the site. If anyone has any bad AI experiences, please share! Spread the awareness and don’t let this money hungry corporation ruin anyone else’s life! I personally went to an AI school and can verify bad things about the school that are mentioned in the reviews posted below. It keeps me awake at night thinking of all the people who are in massive debt and can’t get an above-minimum-wage job because of EDMC.


Read for yourself how this company has affected student’s lives:…

And read employee accounts as well:…


A portal with lots of useful reading:

video on the subject:…

NOTE: Not all art schools with ‘Institute’ in the name are EDMC owned (like the School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Research which ones are legitimate before requesting information!

Another scam art school frequently advertised on this site is Full Sail University. THEY ARE JUST AS BAD:…
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MatchLight Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I just graduated from AI. Ridiculously high debt now. Kinda at a loss...
LazyMusician10 Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014  Student Filmographer
Also the Art Institute wasn't my 1st choice for a college. I did get accepted to a way better art school in Atlanta, GA called SCAD (or Savannah of Creative Arts and Design). I had a bunch of scholarships plus they liked my portfolio. But the school is out of state for me and very expensive. My family couldn't do it, the Art Institute of Dallas was the second college I got accepted to. I really wanted to go to SCAD and aim for Sequential Art (become able to make your own comic books, graphic novels, manga) but I couldn't. I wanted to do there online classes but it was expensive as well. So I just decided to go to Dallas to get away from home, I always said when I wanted to get away (Im from Houston, TX by the way). I did send the Art Institute of Dallas my portfolio so I could be accepted into the Animation program and surprise I was accepted.
When I first started I wanted to aim to be a 2D Animator or a Concept Artists. But now that I'm in my 3rd quarter (about to end on June 21st) my mind keeps changing on what I want to do over the course f the classes I take. I notice of what I'm good at and what I'm not. So now I'm aiming to still be a Concept Artist and maybe a Watercolor Painter. For next quarter, one of my classes I'm taking is Introduction to Watercolor Painting. So I'm excited for that class, my other three are : 2D Animation, Figure Sculpting, and Storyboarding = everyone told e I was going to die in those classes. Well I hope not :p
troymation Featured By Owner Edited 1 day ago
I'm sorry to hear that. I too graduated from the AI of Philadelphia with a BS associates degree in computer animation. What a joke of a school. I was like you and grasped at what was convenient in order to get out of the house, instead of what would propel my future forward. Don't get me wrong, I did ok. I storyboarded for Mtv animation...(When it still existed), I also had several freelance jobs for some pretty heavy gaming and digital design companies. Unfortunately I credit very little of my successes to the Art Institutes. I came in to that school with a skill set that most students don't have...namely my high school was a fine art school and I had a mentor (Kim Parr) for two years who taught me everything I know about painting...needless to say, I was a star student (whom AI attempted to exploit at every possible turn).

I decided to go back to school two years ago and am currently attending SCAD (by the way, they didn't take ANY of my AI credits so I had to start over). Please don't think I'm trying to rub it in or anything but..."you have no idea what you are missing!" SCAD is a FAAAAAAAARRRR superior school and I can't tell you what a breath of fresh air it was when I got accepted and toured the school. The atmosphere alone bleeds talent...hell just look at the work on the walls and visit any of the exhibitions they frequently hold or any of the panels they host from different speakers and celebrity guests. Just this quarter I will be attending a seminar held by the lead technical director at Dreamworks studios. I am about to take a quarter and study abroad at their campus in LaCoste France... A beautiful campus. It is set at one of the Marqui D'saad's castles. I've never seen anything like it.

The resources and equipment is state of the art. There is a special effects, sound and green-screen room on campus. The quality of instruction at SCAD in general, is amazing. The professors are top tier and either have or are still currently working in the industry and have done exactly what you want to do or have even written the software or partially invented some of the industry techniques they are teaching you. I'll put it this way: I'm in animation...Three of my professors where senior art directors at Disney and one of them turned down a job as technical director at EA games in order to work at SCAD. The woman who WROTE the premier book on technical lighting is "teaching" the digital lighting course I'm taking next quarter. I could go on but I think you get the picture.

The horizon is pretty competative whether you are a fine artist or if you want to illustrate or do concept art for gaming. You need the right tools.

Hang in there and I wish you well, but if you decide to go back to school (and you may need to) I hope you have the opportunity to attend a more reputable art school that you will enjoy better or maybe even SCAD in the future.
LazyMusician10 Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014  Student Filmographer
I heard about that murder when I got to Ai of Dallas. 
I'm currently attending Ai of Dallas (majoring in Media Arts and Animation), I've been here for 9 months now and already hearing about there being sued again from people. An that this is there seventh time being sued (heard this from a friend last week).
When I went to the Tech lab just now to rent out a Wacom table to use to work on my homework, there was a guy in the back reading the article out loud about how the Art Institutes in a whole were being sued a lot of money. I don't exactly know the full details on what the suing is all about; think it's dealing with Financial Aid. But until they make an announcement that there being sued or they lost the case, I won't be applying else where just yet nor telling my mother. :/  But over all I'm liking my experience here, I'm learning and hating homework at the same time but I'm doing my work to pass and move on to the next quarter. But I'll come back here and let yall know if anything big happens here at our school with the suing thing or if they decided to raise my price higher on how much of my tuition I'm paying each darn month, for I swear if it bumps up $200+ for my tuition each month I will transfer (Im already paying $348 or $358 each month). :) 
Serinji Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, I fell for this, I was talked into doing the school online. I'm only $1500 in debt, not much, but still, I can't get into any school til that's paid off and I don't know what do either. I want to get into animation, but I'm also fine with just doing graphic design or ending up in the gaming industry, it sucks that this was all a scam cuz now I feel stupid for enrolling in the first place.
Lady-of-Icarus Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2014  Student General Artist
where the heck has this been happening? the most i got was small money issues and people complaining about the higher ups just messing around with firing and hiring professors when it wasn't necessary. i think its mostly because the professor helps us along against what the institute wants. (which is also probably why they keep getting rid of or receiving new tutors now that i think about it)

but yeah other than that, it's like what the midoryu's comment says. most of it, for me and him/her so far, is depending on the admissions and financial aid and stuff that isn't directly involved with teaching. the professors are cool beans, especially those that know how to get around the system.
midoryu Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2014  Hobbyist Artist

I went to AI Denver for four quarters. I maintained a 3.9 gpa, I had perfect attendance, I worked for EDMC in the mailroom and at the admissions desk. I also lived at the dorms, by myself due to health reasons.

The instructors there are of the highest caliber.

The financial aid, accounting, and admissions office are where the scam lies. The admissions people get paid by how many people they can get to enroll. They all have degrees in psychology and they use that knowledge to draw people in. There is a quota that they have to reach every 6 weeks or their paycheck is docked or even cuts are made. This would violate several laws if they were not a privately run corporate institute.

The financial services office is the true evil. In fact, what they did to me was so confusing that I don't understand fully what they did. I do know that I owe the school 3.5k,  I owe the government 37k, and was charged another 3k for breaking the lease on my dorm room after they told me that I had to get of the dorms. They did not pay my complete tuition every quarter in order to get money out of me early. They expected $100 each month from somebody that they knew full well could not afford it. They offered a merit scholarship for$650 a quarter, but then raised the tuition. This was the only scholarship that they offered.

Meanwhile, the accounting office expected $150 a month from me, even though financial services showed only $100. They could not account for payments that I had made and could prove with receipts, and were really good at applying payments to the wrong month.  

I came to the conclusion that they are a money laundering front for Goldman Sachs, exploiting students for entitlements as a student. They found a loophole where all students receive money, and they decided they wanted a piece of it.  

Ant76 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2014  Student General Artist
A lot of dumb anime ppl usually end up going to these school cause they don't have a portfolio for a real art school and let not forget real art school like mica said rise cooper union r any other won't accept anime -.-
LoOmBoy Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014

I'm currently at the New England institute of Art in Brookline Boston. When I come on to this site I do see lots of Japanese anime drawings and people having awesome dreams of one day becoming an animator, but now that I've been going to Ai I see a trend that has been going on where lots of kids, who use and love this site, that go to the schools and are undoubtedly denied their dreams by attending the school. The bottom line is this:


Ai excepts everybody and anybody, even when they have no artistic ability.


I've been attending classes where a person who actually is in need of extra mental help has been attending classes to graduate and wants to, and was convinced by The New England institute of Art that he could get a job as being a 2D animator. He can barely draw, and when he passed in his work for 2D animation, the teacher would give his best criticism, when really the project is in the shape where it looks like it has been done by somebody with... well, mental issues... So the teacher will grade you on effort naturally, but now once reality sets in beyond the school walls, and beyond his effort, his ability will sadly not be considered in a professional field! Now he's in 3D modeling and rigging classes for game design and is dropping out. The school, in my eyes, plainly excepts anybody for money and take what it can get, even if it means taking advantage of people will mental disabilities.


I switched my major from Animation to Graphic Design because the school's animation program is undoubtedly geared toward Game Design. The classes for game design are there, but they will not tell you that you have to meet with specific terms where you learn game design more instead of what you came to learn from the school in the first place. The reason why they sneak up on you with Game design classes is because THAT is what's giving people the most jobs in the area where the school is. If your going to Ai because you want to create your own 2D animation show one day, then you aren't going to get what you are looking for. 3D animation is what is the more dominant art form, and also because Video game companies will most-likely be looking for more 3D animators.


ALL PEOPLE WHO WANT TO DRAW ANIME FOR A LIVEING: Ai will except you, and tell you you have false dreams and gear you toward 3D modeling after accepting you and making you pay heartless amounts of money. 


If you want to get into Game Design then that's perfect for NEIA! go for it! but everybody else in animation who isn't into 3D modeling/3D animating/3D rigging/3D lighting/Advanced 3D modeling and learning Spline modeling, then HEEED MY WARNING. I went through half of it and switch to graphic design because I learned that I just want to help people! I want to help people re-design things and help people become more successful by using artistic methods in graphic and general Design.

Suzeeveronica Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2013
I have a friend who is in so much debt because of AI she is now homeless living on the streets of Philadelphia. All she wanted was to become a videographer and now she is homeless because she is from a low income home and was completely taken advantage of by The Art Institutes. Luckily, I got out, and now I'm getting my Masters in Behavioral Neuroscience, but I will do whatever it takes to help out those suffering because of those terrible institutions. 
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