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Another Red Flag at University of the People

By Derek Newton

In reviewing more material from University of the People (UoPeople), I came across this helpful notice for their students:

“UoPeople is a non-profit, tuition-free, online university whose resources are limited. As such, we are unable to take incoming calls and our phone number goes directly to a voice message service.”

It’s pretty interesting that UoPeople just has a voicemail box when their “Office of Admissions” shares an address with a virtual office that anyone can rent for $50 a month.

Cheap office space and being unable to answer the phone is not a sideways way of picking on institutions struggling with limited resources. At the same time, it’s important to juxtapose the lack of funds to answer student calls with the school’s tax filings that show it collected $4.4 million in revenue in 2016 alone – a haul that includes $2.6 million in contributions and grants. The school’s website shows it’s scored financial support from The Gates Foundation, The Clinton Foundation and others. Something tells me those donors get their calls answered.

That $4.4 million in revenue also includes $1.8 from students in “tuition fees.” Over the past four years the school has taken in more than $3.5 million from students. All of which may make you wonder how much it costs to have someone answer the phone. Or, more importantly, what students and these generous foundations are actually paying for.