Hi everyone. I’m Tonya. I started school in 2008 at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh- Online for a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. I chose an online program because I am a mom of 3 who works full time and was told online classes would be the solution to being busy and not actually living close enough to a college to commute.
I was notified that I had run out of student loans and that I would not be able to finish. After this, I transferred to International Academy of Design and Technology in 2010 and was told by them that this would not happen again and that I would definitely be able to finish my bachelors. Again, this wasn’t true and I ended up taking additional loans to finish with IADT as well. During my time at IADT I was told that the amount of my loans covered everything, including books and supplies, which turned out to be a lie. There were times when I had to purchase art supplies and other materials for classes out of pocket. I was also told the instructors were all the best in their field and that we would be learning inside tricks of the trade to be able to get lucrative, high-paying jobs after graduation, also not true. Many of them were no more knowledgeable than myself and were doing teaching as a side job.
After graduating from IADT I went to Full Sail for an MFA in Media Design. I do feel that this was worthwhile, I don’t think it was worth the additional $40,000 that I ended up with in even more student loans.
I recently found out that IADT was closed in 2015 after being merged with Sanford Brown, and that’s when I discovered this group. Prior to this I had no idea about DTR or any other things going on with student loans and for-profit schools. I had been embarrassed by taking out such large loans for “school” and never really discussed it with anyone so I had no idea. While doing research for my DTR application I discovered that IADT was placed on accreditation probation WHILE I was enrolled there in 2012. I am mad about this because I know I wasn’t notified of this and I think that would have made a difference in whether I enrolled in my final year.
My current loans are over $132,000 (with a lot of it going up due to interest). I am currently a graphic designer but I had this job BEFORE I went to school and I am desperate to hold on to this job since I have come to realize that nobody will hire me in graphic design based on my education. I honestly feel foolish for getting myself into this mess and not realizing that they were only in it for the money. I’m actually even more mad about it this week after watching the Fail State documentary and realizing that this actually wasn’t new at all and that greedy people have been taking advantage of people who are just trying to better themselves.