DeKalb, IL — Independence University in Utah closed abruptly recently leaving students without any college plans for the fall semester.
Students are relying on their peers, emails from the college administration, and the U.S. Department of Education to guide them after the sudden closure. The university website doesn’t indicate that the private college shut down, but students got the news over email.
If a university closes unexpectedly, it can develop a plan for its students to transfer their credits to other colleges. But students can also stop their classes and request a discharge of their federal student loans.
Independence is currently directing students to the Miami International University of Art & Design or South University in Georgia.
The Education Department questioned its plans and said "students are being pressured to agree to transfer," and the "unusual arrangement" warranted a closer look.
The university had oversight issues in the past. The college group Center for Excellence in Higher Education also had been sanctioned by the Colorado government in 2020 in connection to fraud. The federal government also had Independence University on a monitoring list and placed restrictions on how it received taxpayer money.
A report from the school’s accreditor found that the school had failed to maintain acceptable student graduation and employment rates despite being given many opportunities to do so. The accreditor ended its approval of the college in April and means the school lost federal money.
Yessenia Delgado, 27, said she had been studying at the university, and she’ll pursue graphic and web design at the Miami International University of Art & Design.
Delgado said she was given two options, get a refund or transfer, but she also has three children and works full time. Stopping didn’t feel like an option.
“The sooner I graduate the better,” she told USA Today. “With the degree comes a good job.”