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Submitted on
March 2, 2010


29,054 (10 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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LifeKO Featured By Owner Edited 4 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am in 12th grade and I applied for the Art institute and like what people suggest I draw a lot of anime because I want to be a anime artist. My GPA is 3.3-3.4. The guy who calls me [Rep from AI] keeps telling me that I should leave my medical dreams to go to my art interest, but I want to study abroad in Japan. 
Thank you guys for the comments and warnings.
CharlieHartford Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014
  Rage  Yeah I'm a newbie to college, I didn't think before I applied at The Art Institute and now I'm trapped. I am in the film program, granted they have all the equipment but it's pointless if they don't fully teach you how to use it.  I'm only 30 and I'm already in debt. I've been attending for a year and 8 months now and I regret everyday, at first everything was  fine I was excited, when I signed up I had no clue what they were telling me. Not good with numbers and the financial terms that were used is a load of crap. I was under the impression I would be getting Financial Aid help, but all I get is Loans.
      I already out over 14 thousand dollars. I can't work a full time job, so I'm not making enough to survive and go to school. I live on campus in which I absolutely hate, they don't monitor these places at all, and they just shack you up with anyone. I don't smoke or drink and the people they have me here with have friends over who smoke WEED, etc, I don't do drugs nor do I want to be around any of that or inhale that stuff.  I too just wanted to leave home and be on my own, but I WENT ABOUT IT THE WRONG WAY, NO MONEY, NO CAR JUST WENT ON IMPULSE. You file complaints and they don't do anything.
      This school is very shady all they care about is the money, I know this now.  The teachers tend to be rude and arrogant at times.  They teach way too fast and never teach the entire lesson because the classes are too short to learn so much. I learn more form YOUTUBE than I do in class.  I wanted to take a quarter off to work and save up money and come to find out even if I'm out of school I still have to pay these people, why am I paying if I'm not attending class? That doesn't make any sense, and I've heard if you leave they will try to make you pay in full, which for me means $80,000 up front. I stay broke, feel like I'm not learning anything, not happy with the dorms and just don't know what to do anymore. I had to apply for food stamps cause I never have money in my pocket. Can't pay the bills. Feel like an idiot, all I wanted to do was learn how to make film, not go into debt for the rest of my life.  I know all schools are expensive but this one takes the cake. They try so hard to make you stay all yo are to them is a paycheck, it's sad and it's wrong. Something needs to be done. Waaaah! 
Xale1990 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014
I hear ya bro. I also just wanted to have my name on the credits of movies and they made me believe that could happen. They structure the classes like its so easy then when it comes time to graduate they will fail you to keep getting money from you until its inconvenient and give you a free pass and you still won't get a job.
angelpink7 Featured By Owner Edited Jul 26, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I'm posting here, cause I just happened across this.

I was called up by the art institue o f pittsburg. I graduated with a GPA of 1.0 (I'm not stupid. I just had a horrible childhood in and out of foster care, and being moved around. I even did a G.E.D. program at one point, which was a work program. Until moving from Florida to Ohio once I turned 18 and actually went back and finished high school) Regardless, no actual art institute would take me,  until Ai called me. I haven't had a job for a year, and was housebound (we have one car and my boyfriend works from 2pm to 2am) I also suffer from a suffer paranoia when I leave the house alone, making it hard to go anywhere without my bf.
Regardless, AI Called me, and when I explained everything, no job, no real outside world access, the only income I made was through my art and odds and ends that I sell online. Which hardly brings in 50 dollars a month. They told me not to worry, they were more then certain that financial aid could cover almost all my cost, at most I would only have to pay a few hundred to get my my degree. Three days on the phone with them, going through things, setting up finacial aid and they gave me the good news. "Finacial Aid" sems to pay for everything". A d@mn dream come true. So Obviously, I didn't think to ask "How much  do classes cost?" After all, I'm not paying for it. So who cares?

Until two weeks later I get the bill for this first quarter 12 weeks of classes online. Tthousand dollars. And get this. Financial aid? Eh. Gov will cover a thousand. The rest they signed me up for student loans. And I' have the opinion of dropping out that very second and paying it ALL or wait until the end of the quarter and the governments financial aid will cover that 1000 at least.

i dropped out after the quarter of course, after learning stuff I ALREADY knew from my previous college classes at a community college that cost me 300 dollars a class. No where near this 7 thousand their asking. And I went to an actual campus where the school supplied us with our things.

Still don't have a job, no money to my name. (I am currently actually going through a trial where a family member of mine is being charged with stealing 2.5 thousand dollars of my money I had been saving up t pay for my to buy myself my own place) (The officer who is actually standing for me in trial (My paranoia does not allow me to do well in crowds, or under pressure, or when all eyes are on me, say testifying. This is one reason I dropped out of community college) kindly told me "You are the kind of person people will always turn to for a scam. You are the kind of woman who will get cornered by criminals when your alone. You're that type of person." He all honesty trying to give me a "You should watch yourself" advice, but it apparently still rings clear as I willingly run into a college that I should have been skeptical from the get go) I have medical bills and other non school debts that need to be paid.

Like I said, I am not a stupid person when it comes to intelligence, street smarts, not so much I agree, but I went into these classes and I wanted to cry at my classmates. I had some of the most stupidest people I had ever met in my classes. One man thought a picture showed "Idealism" because of the pole between the females legs (It was a picture of a amazon woman manniquin). I mean we were learning stuff I LEARNED IN HIGH SCHOOL. I should have known right off the bat, not only do to my GPA, but because they didn't ask for a portfolio or even a measley example of my work before they enrolled me. And believe me if any of the students I was with were to go by, I know exactly why college ask for these now. There were students who couldn't understand that making a "3 dimensional shape" consisted of actually doing more then putting a circle on a paper and then using a gradient tool on it.
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 Jul 24, 2014
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 Aug 13, 2014  Student Filmographer
Wow, congratz! I wish you all the luck as well with your abroad study in France. Sounds exciting as hell! Well this quarter I was debating a lot, but next quarter (Fall Quarter) I'll be switching to Graphic Design for I want to aim to Illustrate and Book Illustrate for Children s books or books in general. For I wanted to Illustrate in the first place when I came here. Just didn't know that Graphic Design had it lol. So I'm excited to start my new major next quarter and I still get to graduate in Winter of 2017 so that's a good thing. For I don't want to stay here to dang long. :p
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.
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