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Students stunned as Argosy University's Eagan campus faces closure

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Argosy University, Twin Cities
Argosy University in Eagan will close Friday unless a buyer steps forward. The school announced the possible closure in an email to students Wednesday night.
Peter Cox | MPR News

The parking lot outside of Argosy University in Eagan was filled with cars and inside, students gathered in small groups. Some grabbed their official transcripts, while others spoke with instructors.

  "Angry, lied to, cheated — I mean all of the above, and I'm not the only one who feels that way," said Aimmy Casale, who has spent a year pursuing her masters in clinical psychology at Argosy.

"We've paid out tuition for this semester," Casale said on Thursday. "On top of that, they've put us through a lot of anxiety, a lot of worry, a lot of stress, a lot of sleepless nights not knowing what's going to happen to us, and we still really don't know what's going to happen to us."

Unless an eleventh-hour buyer steps forward, Argosy University, Twin Cities will close Friday, leaving around 1,000 students with more questions than answers about their education and finances.

The for-profit college system was cut off from federal loan programs last month after it didn't distribute around $13 million in federal loans to students nationwide.

A federal court-appointed receiver now holds all the school's assets. Argosy will close campuses nationwide Friday if an accredited buyer does not step forward.

In a statement, receiver Mark Dottore said he is "working with students, accreditors, state regulators and the U.S. Department of Education to provide as many options as possible for students, to include transfer to another higher education institution or student loan discharge."

Argosy officials planned to meet with students through Friday to help them sort out what happens next. An email from the Eagan campus President John Slama late Wednesday said students could ask for their federal student loans to be discharged.

An estimated $1.38 million in federal loans that were supposed to be dispersed to Minnesota students by the school were not, according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. 

Charli Crawford is three semesters from a Ph.D. in psychology at the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology at Argosy. She said some of her classmates are struggling to pay for food and rent. Crawford has worked without pay in "practica," as part of her program.

"We count on that money to pay for gas to get to our practica," Crawford said. "So the student loans are what keep us afloat during the school year."

Crawford said she was told Thursday she could finish up at an out-of-state school, but she's wondering if there could be other options.

About 12 schools so far are interested in helping students transfer, according to the state Office of Higher Education.

"For those students who are within one year of completing their program, and it's primarily for the medical sciences and medical career pathways, they are eligible for a teach-out opportunity we're working on brokering with Argosy and with the receiver," said Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson.

Abdi Mohammed stood in Argosy's atrium, unsure if he'd attend an informational meeting. He was studying radiation therapy at Argosy.

  "I was just devastated, because I had a lot of plans for 2020 — graduating, then getting married, but now it looks like I'll have to look for a different career and just start working," he said.

Slama, the president of the Twin Cities campus, declined to comment.