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Independence University Hiding Impending Closure from Students and Borrowers

Thursday, July 29, 2021
Whitney Barkley-Denney

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the leadership of Independence University told its faculty the school will close on August 1 in an email that also instructed recipients not to inform students and borrowers of the closure. Independence U. Lays Off Staff, Says Feds Stopped Aid | Republic Report

Independence University announced to its staff this week that they would be laid off in the next 60 days because the school lost accreditation and federal funding, but claimed the school would stay open. Enrolling about 7,000 students, it is the last remaining college operated by the Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE), which a 2020 lawsuit by the Colorado Attorney General revealed as having routinely defrauded students.

Center for Responsible Lending Senior Policy Counsel Whitney Barkley-Denney made the following statement:

That Independence University would hide its coming closure from its students is reprehensible, and more proof of the exploitative, anti-student environment that was thriving under the Department of Education during the DeVos era. Indeed, after the former for-profit college’s conversion to non-profit status was rejected by the Obama Department of Education, the decision was reversed by the for-profit college profiteers of Betsy DeVos.

Now students are paying the price. One student who testified in the 2020 case had obtained three degrees at a CEHE institution, including a bachelor’s degree in computer science, despite having a ‘permanent and total’ cognitive disability. Having paid $56,000 for his degrees, he is now working as a dishwasher in a job for people with disabilities. And the fraud isn’t limited to students and their families. Over the last decade, taxpayers have paid more than $2 billion to a school that was well-known for targeting vulnerable borrowers.

This kind of exploitation is a long running failure of oversight and accountability shared by the Department of Education, the school’s accreditor, Federal Student Aid, and the VA. President Biden must make good on his promise to end taxpayer support of these predatory schools.

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Press Contact: carol.parish@responsiblelending.org