Nineteen groups including the Century Foundation called on the Education Department to withhold federal funds from the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, after a Colorado state district court judge ruled it misled students about being able to make more money by attending one of the nonprofit’s colleges, College America.
The nonprofit also runs Independence University, Stevens-Henager College and California College San Diego.
According to court documents, Denver District Court Judge Ross Buchanan in August fined the center, its then-chairman and chief executive officer $3 million for, among other things, deceiving prospective students about how much they could earn by attending College America. The chain, for instance, said students could earn $1 million, based on studies that college graduates can make that much over a lifetime.
In a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday, the groups noted that the Higher Education Act bars institutions from receiving federal student aid dollars if it or its owner “has been judicially determined to have committed fraud.”
But the center’s chief executive officer, Eric Juhlin, said the nonprofit will appeal the court ruling. He also said the court had not found fraud had occurred and that the decision involved Colorado law and did not find a violation of the Higher Education Act. College America closed its three campuses in September.