American Intercontinental University (AIU) is a for-profit school based in Chandler, Ariz., where its online courses originate. It also has two campuses for in-person learning, in Atlanta, Ga., and Houston, Texas.
The company touts multiple “rankings” and awards for its schools' degree programs, but has said little about a $494 million settlement in Jan. 2019 (under its former name, Career Education Corporation) with attorneys general in 49 states for allegations of deceptive student-recruiting practices.
Founded in 1970 as the American College, today AIU offers associate, bachelor's degrees, and master's degrees. According to its website, AIU “places emphasis on the educational, professional, and personal growth of each student, and pursues this aim with a commitment to institutional integrity and ethics.”
But what if you, as a student, are accused of violating these integrity or ethical standards?
AIU students are expected to adhere to the school's “Honor Pledge,” stating that all coursework submitted will be “original and solely the results of my own efforts.”
AIU's Student Code of Conduct is fairly extensive and includes definitions of:
- An “egregious academic integrity violation” – This could mean a serious or flagrant case of plagiarism, such as purchasing content used in a report; copying someone else's work, or having someone else write a paper that you turn in as your own; incorrectly citing sources or references (i.e., you claim to have read a certain book but instead, pulled a quote from it on Wikipedia), and so on. It's also a violation to use “unauthorized” notes or electronic devices when taking an exam.
- An “instructional management academic integrity violation” – Instructors have a lot of leeway in making these determinations. It could mean “work that does not include enough original thought for an authentic assessment of student capability;” or turning in a paper that doesn't contain both in-text citations and a reference list.
For undergraduate students, the violation process means getting not only a ‘zero' grade on the assignment, but for a second offense, a failing grade for the course. A third such incident also prompts a review by the school's Code of Conduct Committee—with the threat of expulsion.
For graduate students, it's only “two strikes” before expulsion is possible.
It is also possible to be disciplined or expelled for “unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material,” per the school's Copyright Infringement policy.
If a student faces an academic integrity violation, AIU's appeal process contains specific time limits to contest an instructor's decision in writing, either to the Office of the Ombudsman (for online students) or the Program Chair (for on-campus students).
AIU uses a formula to determine whether a student meets Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Standards, based on a combination of cumulative grade point average (CGPA) and rate of progress (ROP) toward completing their academic program. In addition, the school says in order for a student's progress to be considered satisfactory, both CGPA and ROP standards must be met. If you disagree with a decision about your SAP score, you must request in writing that it be reconsidered by an SAP Appeals Board.
AIU students can be put on probation anytime their CGPA or ROP fall below “the specified values,” and must “successfully appeal” in order to remain enrolled.
One section of the AIU University Catalog outlines the penalties for Late Submissions of Assignments. Most of these are common sense—you forfeit 10% of the total points for an assignment by turning it in up to a week late, 20% of the total points if an assignment is 8 to 14 calendar days late, etc. It underscores the need to keep in regular touch with instructors—and to keep good records of this contact—if there's a chance you'll miss a due date for a paper or report.
The penalties are especially strict for Discussion Board posts. If they aren't posted on time, a student gets ‘zero' points. If a Discussion Board post has a weekly, Friday night deadline, the post must be “substantive” and filed on time, or points are docked. Ignore a course's online forum requirements altogether, and you risk getting a ‘zero.'
Students who are recipients of Title IV funds (federal financial aid) should be aware of policies that could allow AIU to keep the money if you withdraw or are dismissed from the school.
In short, there are many ways a struggling student could trip up and face academic disciplinary actions at AIU—not to mention any alleged infractions of the Student Code of Conduct.
According to AIU, “most issues are resolved” through its Internal Grievance Procedure, outlined in the University Catalog section, Your Right to Know. The Ombudsman's office plays a key role here, although several steps are suggested prior to contacting the Ombudsman—all of them involving internal AIU personnel. The catalog also mentions “important terms and conditions regarding this Grievance Procedure and other rights” that are part of your initial Enrollment Agreement, so it may be time to dig that out and read it carefully.
Need an Attorney?
There's a lot of fine print in the AIU documentation that gives the school and its instructors fairly broad powers to come down hard on a student who might be having trouble keeping up with coursework.
Maybe you're facing one of those “gray areas”—the threat of expulsion for reasons you don't agree with, or an allegation you know is false but aren't sure how to prove it. That's where the Lento Law Firm can step in. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has assisted countless students across the country in fighting unfair academic charges and clearing up allegations of misconduct.
When it's a student's word against an instructor's, for instance, it's important to have a knowledgeable advocate on your side. Any kind of allegation against a student at American InterContinental University, however, can have significant consequences if not handled carefully and as best as possible. This is in part because such matters are often not handled with an accused student's best interest in mind, especially at a for-profit school such as AIU. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento knows these concerns are frequent, and often more troublesome, at for-profit schools, and he knows how to protect his client's rights and interests. He can help you save your academic reputation and future career. Schedule a consultation today online, or by calling 888-535-3686.