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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Art Institute of Pittsburgh has been an academic institution for decades in the city.
Under the last two owners, the school has struggled financially and closing its doors has been a real possibility, but news that the school would close Friday came as a sudden shock.
Founded in 1921, the Art Institute has a storied legacy for training those in the creative arts and trades.
In the words of one parent: “Pittsburgh has always been a city that supports the arts. It’s a great loss to the community, but a greater loss to a creative generation yet to fully realize their potential.”
KDKA met with Pilar Melton, a now former Art Institute student who moved to Pittsburgh from North Carolina to take classes at the historic school.
“Of course I came up here thinking I would be able to get my education in the field that I wanted to get, but this happened and now I am kind of stuck up here,” Melton said.
Now Melton, who was a student in gaming art design, doesn’t know that to do or how she’ll afford to stay. The student housing she was living in has closed as well. She was forced to rent an apartment she can’t afford after what she says was no notice at all.
“’Uh, sorry, we’re closing.’ The only good thing is that we won’t have to repay our loans from the school, but it doesn’t matter because they still stole our refund money from us that the government gives us,” Melton told KDKA News.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education received notice on Monday after the Dream Center Education Holdings, a nonprofit that bought the Art Institute campuses in 2017, submitted a closure notice to regulators.
Almost 2,000 students are reportedly enrolled online, and another 230 students were attending classes at the school in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
Meanwhile, other students KDKA spoke to online. Baliee Beckett, a photography student, and Destiny Slater, a media arts and animation student, also say they are greatly disappointed at how this was handled.
Many students are also reporting they didn’t receive any refund money from the school.
Students who do not choose to transfer to another school may qualify for a federal closed school loan discharge.
KDKA News did not receive a call or email back from the Dream Center Foundation, which owned the school.