One college in Utah that offered online degrees suddenly closed over the weekend, disrupting the lives of thousands of students. But the university’s efforts to get students into new colleges is causing the federal government to ask questions.
Strange still, as of Monday noon, there was nothing Independence UniversityTo indicate the closure of the private college on Sunday, nor on the website of its owner, the Center for Excellence in Higher Education. Instead, students rely on their peers and emails from the college administration and the US Department of Education for guidance.
Independence University’s position highlights how a troubled institution can stay in business, with students unaware, and then leave them in limbo when it finally closes. Status also shows education section More prepared to exercise their organizational oversight under the administration of President Joe Biden.
The college closure, announced to students via email on Wednesday, is the latest development at the Center of Excellence in the turbulent history of higher education. The group has three other colleges in the process of closing.
When a university closes unexpectedly, it can make a plan for its students to transfer their credits to other colleges. But students also have the option to stop their studies and request forgiveness on their federal student loans. The University of Independence directs students to Miami International University of Art and Design or Southern University in Georgia. Both institutions offer online programs.
The Ministry of Education questioned the independence plans. In a letter to Paul Gardner, CEO of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, the department indicated that it generally does not review conversion plans for schools that have closed. But federal officials said “students are under pressure to agree to transfer,” and the “unusual arrangement” warrants a closer look.
What’s more, the department was previously investigating Al-Istiqlal University. Richard Cordray, who oversees the government’s financial assistance, suggested that the college chose to close to avoid the results of this investigation.
“We have already sent an email to students to help them understand that they should not be rushed into accepting a transfer to another CEHE school of choice,” Cordray said in a statement to USA TODAY.
The Center of Excellence in Higher Education told USA TODAY that a statement is imminent.
The college’s turbulent history has come as news to many students trying to finish their studies and improve their chances in the workforce.
Alexis Seibel, 25, said she was laid off from Verizon Wireless in the middle of the pandemic and was trying to figure out what to do next when she saw a TV ad for Independence University. Sibel, who lives in Illinois, wanted to improve her career prospects, and Independence seemed a good place to do so.
But she received an email on July 28 informing her that the school would be closing in just days.
She actually spent about nine months working towards her associate’s degree in Medicaid and only had 10 months to study in the program. “I worked really hard to get the honors award and get good grades,” Seibel said. “Just getting an email like that rips everything apart, it’s so frustrating.”
Only after I learned about the closure did I Conducting more research about the college and identifying the problems of continuous control there.
The Center of Excellence in Higher Education is also accredited by Colorado government in 2020 regarding to defraud. The federal government has put Independence University on a watch list and placed limits on how it receives taxpayer money.
The school’s accrediting body, the Commission on Accreditation of Professional Schools and Colleges, finalized its approval of the college in April. That agency said the school failed to maintain acceptable graduation and employment rates for students despite being given many opportunities to do so. End of credit It also means losing federal funds, which can be a fatal blow to colleges that depend on this funding.
Sibel said she felt pressured to enroll in one of the schools suggested by Independence. She chose instead to pursue her online medical assistant studies at Kaiser University.
Other students told USA TODAY that they plan to continue their studies at one of the universities proposed by Independence University.
Yesenia Delgado, 27, said she was studying graphic art at university, and would pursue a similar program at Miami International University of Art and Design in graphic and web design. Delgado, who lives in Pennsylvania, is concerned about transferring her credits and falling further behind in her studies.
Delgado said she was given two options, either a refund or a transfer. But she also has three children and works full time. Stopping was not an option.
“The sooner you graduate, the better,” she said. “With a degree comes a good job.”
Student Education Department said Must check their website For more information about the closure.
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Contributing: Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY