'We're all fighters': Former Argosy University students make appeal to lawmakers

Former Argosy University students are hoping nobody else has to suffer the heartbreak they did when their school shut down earlier this year due to financial troubles.

The students spoke before lawmakers at the State Capitol Wednesday with some emotional testimonies.

About 20 students testified along with some teachers and even administrators. They shared stories about how the closure has left them devastated.

“Jerome had six weeks left of school,” said Pam Fontem, whose husband is a former Argosy student.

Some, like Sarah Kretzschmar, said they’re over $50,000 in debt.

“I dedicated 2 and a half years into the doctoral program only now to be told from other higher education institutions that zero of my credits will transfer,” said Tracey Kitching, another former student.

The for-profit college shut down 20 of its campuses suddenly and without much warning.

“We were told to continue as normal,” said Aprile Baron, the former director of student services at Argosy University. “We were told to continue to take payments from students.”

There had been some signs things were not going well for the college after it went into receivership, which is a form of bankruptcy.

Then, the U.S. Department of Education learned the receiver was not paying millions in federal aid to students and pulled the school’s access to financial aid.

It left students without money to pay for basic needs.

The students have not stayed quiet, however. They contacted anyone who would listen to ask for help, including legislators.

Today, for two hours, members of the Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee heard from those most impacted by the closure.

“All we want to do is finish our degrees and help people,” said Erin Jones, a former Argosy dental hygiene student.

Those who spoke today are happy for the chance to share their personal stories and hope that something can be done to prevent this from ever happening again.

“We’re all fighters,” said Jones. “We fought for this hearing, we will fight to get the degree that we have tried so hard to get.”

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education and two state legislators announced an emergency proposal to get back some of the students’ state grant money and not require them to pay back state loans for the spring semester.