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Academy of Art University

Phone: (415) 618-6191 View Additional Phone Numbers 79 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105 View Additional Email Addresses

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This company offers AA, BFA and MFA degrees, certificate programs and online study in the arts - design, fashion, performing, graphics, firm and TV, Music, and computer.

BBB Accreditation

This business is not BBB accredited.

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Reason for Rating

BBB rating is based on 13 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.

Factors that raised the rating for Academy of Art University include:

  • Length of time business has been operating
  • Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size
  • Response to 6 complaint(s) filed against business
  • Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business

Customer Complaints Summary Read complaint details

6 complaints closed with BBB in last 3 years | 0 closed in last 12 months
Complaint Type Total Closed Complaints
Advertising/Sales Issues 3
Billing/Collection Issues 0
Delivery Issues 1
Guarantee/Warranty Issues 0
Problems with Product/Service 2
Total Closed Complaints 6

Customer Reviews Summary Read customer reviews

0 Customer Reviews on Academy of Art University
Customer Experience Total Customer Reviews
Positive Experience 0
Neutral Experience 0
Negative Experience 0
Total Customer Reviews 0

Additional Information

BBB file opened: March 13, 1995 Business started: 01/01/1929 Business started locally: 01/01/1929
Licensing, Bonding or Registration

This business is in an industry that may require professional licensing, bonding or registration. BBB encourages you to check with the appropriate agency to be certain any requirements are currently being met.

These agencies may include:

California Department Of Education
1430 N St, Sacramento CA 95814
Phone Number: (916) 319-0791

Business Management
Ms. Elisa Stephens, President Ms. Rachel Lee, COO
Contact Information
Principal: Ms. Elisa Stephens, President
Number of Employees


Business Category

Schools - Academic - Colleges & Universities

Service Area
This business service area covers the bay area.

Additional Locations


    79 New Montgomery St

    San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 618-6191


BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating Overview

BBB Customer Reviews Rating represents the customers opinions of the business. The Customer Review Rating is based on the number of positive, neutral and negative customer reviews posted that are calculated to produce a score.

Customer Review Experience Value
Positive Review 5 points per review
Neutral Review 3 points per review
Negative Review 1 point per review

BBB letter grades represent the BBB's opinion of the business. The BBB grade is based on BBB file information about the business. In some cases, a business' grade may be lowered if the BBB does not have sufficient information about the business despite BBB requests for that information from the business.

BBB Letter Grade Scale

BBB Rating Value
A+ 5
A 4.66
A- 4.33
B+ 4
B 3.66
B- 3.33
C+ 3
C 2.66
C- 2.33
D+ 2
D 1.66
D- 1.33
F 1
NR -----
Star Rating scale

  Average Score
5 stars 5.00
4.5 stars 4.50-4.99
4 stars 4.00-4.49
3.5 stars 3.50-3.99
3 stars 3.00-3.49
2.5 stars 2.50-2.99
2 stars 2.00-2.49
1.5 stars 1.50-1.99
1 star 0-1.49

BBB Customer Review Rating plus BBB Rating is not a guarantee of a business' reliability or performance, and BBB recommends that consumers consider a business' BBB Rating and Customer Review Rating in addition to all other available information about the business. If the BBB Rating is NR then only Customer Reviews are used for the Star Rating.

Complaint Detail(s)

5/20/2015 Problems with Product/Service | Read Complaint Details

Additional Notes

Complaint: I went on the website for to see what classes might be available for my daughter. She needed one online art history class to fulfill her degree at St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, In. Since St. Mary's does not offer a summer course I had to look elsewhere for that. I found I could not look at the class schedule without first giving a lot of personal information. I was also required to pay a $120.00 application fee. After paying the fee with my credit card I found some classes that would be suitable. I spoke with a member of the art department and was told to pay another fee of $100.00 which would go toward tuition if my daughter decided to take a class. Then I found out after I paid the extra $100.00 that their tuition is $800+ per credit hour(over $3000 for one class online). That is more than double the cost of my daughter's current college and much more than most colleges charge for an online summer course. My daughter called me right away and said that she was getting texts, e-mails and phone messages from the Academy of Art up to 15 times per day and wanted it to stop as it was exam week. I called the Academy to get a refund as my daughter found other classes that were more appropriately priced. **** in the Accounting department assured me there would be no refund based on their policy. I asked what they did to warrant or justify keeping $220.00 and ** could not answer that question, just to say it was policy. I feel it might be appropriate for them to keep the application fee, as those are usually not refundable, but to keep the $100.00 tuition fee when we had not signed up for a class, no classes had begun, and no service was provided, is entirely inappropriate. In addition their marketing and online procedures are extremely aggressive and deceptive. They do not tell you when you fill out the application and pay the fee that their credits are $800.00 per and that it will cost you another $100.00, only when you pay do you find that out. Product_Or_Service: Information only

Desired Settlement: DesiredSettlementID: Refund I would like to see the Academy of Art University refund the tuition fee of $100.00 because no class was signed up for, the classes have not even begun for summer, and no service was provided. I don't believe they did anything to warrant the $120.00 application fee either, but I will overlook that because it was made clear at the start that would not be refunded.

Business Response: Initial Business Response /* (1000, 5, 2015/05/18) */ Contact Name and Title: ******** ******* Contact Phone: XXXXXXXXXX Contact Email: ******** Re: Case #XXXXXXXX To Whom It May Concern: This letter is in response to the complaint filed by ****** Jay *********** on May 5, 2015. The Academy of Art University has an internal grievance process that is written in all of our policies and procedures. The Grievance Committee has decided to address your concerns in the following manner: The Committee investigated your concerns and determined that Ms. *********** was unclear of our policy at the time she applied for her daughter. Therefore, the Committee has agreed to grant Ms. *********** a one-time exception to our policy and waive the $100 tuition deposit. Initial Consumer Rebuttal /* (2000, 7, 2015/05/20) */ (The consumer indicated **/she ACCEPTED the response from the business.)

3/3/2015 Advertising/Sales Issues | Read Complaint Details

Additional Notes

Complaint: Attending schoo My name is ****** M. *****. I enrolled to the Academy & was due to start class on 01/26/15. I arrived to San Francisco from North Carolina on 01/27/2015. I was informed that I needed to pay $500 for my dorm the day I arrive on campus . However, when I arrived I was told that $2000 needed to be paid for my meal plan. I had spoken with her advisor regarding the meal plan and advised that I would apply for food assistance from the government for my meal plan. The advisor stated that was fine. No one informed me before I arrived that $2000 was needed for the meal plan. Only the $500 for the dorm room needed to be paid for when I arrived on campus . I was also informed that U might be placed in the overflow apartment hotel due to paying late. I am embarrassed, heart broken. I quit my job, and gave up my apartment. My mom lost her job on 01/23/15 and wanted me to achieve my goals by giving me the money to arrive in San Francisco CA to attend school. I have spent over $700 for travel,school supplies and etc. I need all my funds returned to me.

Desired Settlement: Travel fees, reimbursement for money spent on school supplies and other items purchased

Business Response: Initial Business Response /* (1000, 7, 2015/02/13) */ February 13, 2015 Better Business Bureau 1000 Broadway, Suite 625 Oakland, CA XXXXX Re: Case # ******** ****** ***** To Whom It May Concern: This letter is in response to the complaint filed by ****** *****. The Academy of Art University has an internal grievance process that is written in all of our policies and procedures. Students are given the opportunity to follow the internal procedure by submitting a written request to the Grievance Committee. The grievance process allows our students to file a grievance up until the end of the following semester. The Grievance Office found that on December 2, 2014, an admissions representative, ***** *****, emailed ****** with a confirmation that all first year students are required to have a meal plan. At this time, ****** was also provided with the contact information for the housing office and a link to the different housing options available. On January 19, 2015, ****** confirmed that she was able to pay the $500 housing deposit after 3:00pm PST that day. ***** replied that there was a possibility that ****** may be placed in overflow housing since she submitted her housing application late and that ****** would need to be able to pay for housing upfront in order to move in. ***** provided the contact information for the housing department and urged ****** to call the housing office to verify how much the housing payment would be upon move in. On January 22, 2015, with no reply from ******, ***** followed up again to see ****** had a chance to speak with housing regarding the payment amount due upon move in. On January 23, 2015, since ***** had not received a reply from ******, ** reached out to let her know that ** would be out of the office for the next three days and provided her with alternate contacts in his absence. ** also provided her with directions to get to the school from the airport, expressed his concern that she was arriving so late, provided her with the housing office hours, and a reminder that she needs to pay the gap in funds for housing upon move in. ***** and ****** spoke later that day, and ***** confirmed with ****** the housing policy and she confirmed that she would reach out to housing and financial aid to confirm she could cover the cost. It should also be noted that ****** did not arrive at the Academy of Art University until Monday, January 27, 2015. Since she arrived after classes had already begun, she missed all orientation events and the housing check in period. While ****** was provided with the correct information regarding meal plans for overflow housing and the Da Vinci Villa, when ****** arrived she was assigned to either room 401 or 402 at the 655 Sutter, Howard Brodie building. On January 28, 2015, the Director of Housing and Resident Life, ****************, spoke with ****** and her mother and explained the housing assignment process. It was also confirmed with the Associate Director of Financial Aid, **** Downey, that ****** was aware that her financial aid would not be sufficient to fully cover housing and that she would be required to pay the gap out of pocket. Sincerely, ***************. Executive Vice President of Educational Services & International Admissions/Services Cc: *** ****, Executive Vice President of Student Services & Enrollment Jennifer Bright to our Executive Director-Office of the Registrar/Academic Records

1/19/2015 Delivery Issues
12/1/2014 Problems with Product/Service
11/17/2014 Advertising/Sales Issues
7/11/2014 Advertising/Sales Issues

Customer Review(s)

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Customer Reviews Summary

0 Customer Reviews on Academy of Art University
Positive Experience (0 reviews)
Neutral Experience (0 reviews)
Negative Experience (0 reviews)