(The following is a reformatted version of a press release
issued by the Office of the Colorado Department of Law, Attorney
General John W. Suthers and received via electronic mail. The
release was confirmed by the sender.)
December 5, 2013
ATTORNEY GENERAL SUTHERS ANNOUNCES CONSUMER PROTECTION
SETTLEMENT WITH ARGOSY UNIVERSITY
DENVER- The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has filed a
civil lawsuit and stipulated consent judgment against Argosy
University, Denver and parent company Education Management
Corporation (NASDAQ: EDMC). Argosy is accused of deceiving,
misleading and financially injuring students seeking doctorate
of education in counseling psychology degrees (EdD-CP) in
violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. Under the
settlement terms, Argosy will pay approximately $3.3 million in
restitution and fines.
“Our investigation revealed a system-wide pattern of Argosy
recklessly launching doctoral degree programs without
substantiating or supporting that they led to the advertised
outcomes,” explained Deputy Attorney General Jan Zavislan. “That
is illegal under Colorado law and why we are holding Argosy
accountable,” said Zavislan.
The Attorney General’s investigation based on student complaints
found that beginning in 2007, Argosy deceptively marketed its
EdD-CP program. Students were led to believe that Argosy was
seeking to have the program accredited by the American
Psychological Association (APA), which in fact was not the case.
Upon graduating, students were moreover told they would be
eligible to become licensed psychologists. In reality, the EdD-CP program’s curriculum and requirements were deficient and
students were unlikely to obtain Colorado licensure. Among the
deficiencies in Argosy’s EdD-CP program was a lack of adequate
internships in Colorado where students were promised they could
remain during their studies.
Even after Argosy modified the EdD-CP curriculum in 2010,
students found it impossible to obtain local internships that
met Colorado’s licensing standards because the EdD-CP program
remained unaccredited by the APA. Many internship sites simply
do not accept students enrolled in unaccredited degree programs.
Students faced the prospect of having to leave the state to find
adequate internships or cobble together local internships not
likely to meet the state’s requirements for licensure.
“Many students withdrew from the EdD-CP program saddled with
debt and to date, no Argosy-Denver EdD-CP student has become
licensed as a psychologist in Colorado or any other state,”
continued Zavislan. “Under the settlement, Argosy must reimburse
66 students for their tuition costs, stop advertising its Denver
EdD-CP program as a psychology licensure-track program, and
cease enrolling students in it,” concluded Zavislan.
The investigation by the Office’s Consumer Protection Section
revealed a long and elaborate pattern of deceptive behavior by
the school. Even when Argosy realized that it could not deliver
on its promise of licensure eligibility because of the
internship requirement, the school deflected blame by
attributing the situation to a recent state board of licensing
rule change regarding the type of internships required for
licensure. However, the particular rule had been in existence
one year prior to the first students enrolling in the EdD-CP
On a going forward basis, any degree program Argosy offers -
either at its Denver campus or online - must satisfy state
requirements and programmatic accrediting standards so that
students are eligible for certification or licensure and
employment in Colorado. Argosy is enjoined from misrepresenting
licensing and employment prospects and misleading students about
any aspect of its degree programs.
The case was filed with the Denver District Court.
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