I need some objective (or perhaps even educated) advice here.
I've seen all of the negative and pessimistic opinions on the Art Institute schools, and I wish I had seen them a year ago. I've been attending the online division of these schools and over the past few months, I've started getting a very uneasy and unhappy feeling. To put things in perspective, I'm a single mom of two kids, working part time at the moment because our hours all got slashed at work and live 50+ miles from the closest physical art school. I found AIO and thought it was the perfect solution. I was pretty happy with how things started; the financial aid crew really worked with me and advised me that by only taking 3 courses per session, I wouldn't have to pay anything out of pocket, worked my books into my tuition and gave me a software package before classes started.
The past few months though, I've had a 180 on my opinion. My financial aid advisor hasn't been doing a whole lot of advising. When I filled out my FAFSA for this year, I was apparently selected for Verification. My advisor never notified me of this. I emailed and called him repeatedly, asking him why I had no Pell Grants showing, etc. He kept putting me off, saying it hadn't completely updated. It wasn't until I stumbled across the page that I realized that I had to fill out a Verification Worksheet and fax in a copy of my income tax form. I did so the day I realized this and it was going on a month ago.
Earlier this week, I email my advisor and ask him what the status is. I get nothing in return. This morning, I emailed him again, clearly quite aggravated, and he said that he had submitted for the final approval last week and was waiting for approval to post my Pell Grants. I write back, thanking him for getting back to me, and then proceed to ask him about my FSEOG, Institutional Socrates Grant, and a few other things. I'm starting to feel like I have to remind him of how to do his job.
As an added insult to all of this, I'm carrying a balance of about $800 because apparently someone scheduled me a class that took me over my the credit hours covered by my financial aid at some point and now I have to figure out how to pay the balance while supporting my kids.
I'm really starting to reconsider my decision of pursuing this goal. I really want to get into game art and design, or something of the like, but I'm feeling more and more discouraged with all of this. I'm limited to online courses because of my situation and location and I'm starting to think that AIO wasn't such the perfect solution I thought it was.
Should I transfer to another school? Are there any decent ones that will offer what I'm looking for? I figured if there was anyone that could help out, it would be this community. I've found some great direction from lurking here but now it's time to come out of lurking...