In a settlement announced Thursday, Argosy University-Denver will pay $3.3 million in restitution and fines for breaching the Colorado Consumer Protection Act by advertising that doctoral graduates in counseling psychology were eligible for licensure in Colorado.
The agreement was reached after the Colorado Attorney General’s Office filed a civil lawsuit against Argosy University – Denver and its parent company Education Management Corp., accusing the school of “deceiving, misleading and financially injuring” students.
A total of 66 students will be reimbursed for tuition costs, Heather DeLange of the Colorado Department of Higher Education told the Colorado Commission on Higher Education during a regular monthly meeting held Thursday in Colorado Springs. Argosy also will cease to enroll students in the program and making false claims, she said.
The attorney general office’s investigation revealed “a pattern of Argosy recklessly launching doctoral degree programs without substantiating or supporting that they led to the advertised outcomes,” according to Deputy Attorney General Jan Zavislan.
That is illegal under Colorado law.
Students were led to believe that Argosy was seeking to have its doctorate of education in counseling psychology degrees accredited by the American Psychological Association, which the investigation concluded was not the case.
“In reality, the program’s curriculum and requirements were deficient and students were unlikely to obtain licensure,” a statement from the attorney general’s office said.
Lacking in particular were internships in Colorado where students were promised they could remain during their studies. Even after Argosy modified the curriculum in 2010, students “found it impossible to obtain local internships that met Colorado’s licensing standards” because the program remained unaccredited.
CCHE Commissioner Monte Moses said he was concerned that compensation for the loss of time invested in the program is missing from the settlement terms.
Zavislan said many students withdrew from the 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.”