Burkett isn't the only angry alumnus of schools owned by Education Management Corp., the Downtown-based operator of for-profit colleges that runs the Art Institutes, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College and South University. He is one of thousands of former students demanding that their loans be forgiven. More than 22,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the debts be cleared for students who attended Art Institutes between 2003 and 2011.
Alumni have protested outside of EDMC campuses and criticized the company on social media. Critics say the company got off cheap in a $95.5 million settlement of a federal lawsuit over allegations of illegal recruiting practices, money that will go to the federal and state coffers but not a dime for former students.