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Liberty University Fined $14 Million by Department of Education

The review process began in 2022.

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The federal Department of Education imposed its largest-ever fine under the Clery Act against Liberty University as part of a settlement agreement it reached with the school.

According to a Department of Education press release, Liberty was fined $14 million for “material and ongoing violations” of the Clery Act, “including with respect to its published crime statistics and treatment of sexual assault survivors.”

Liberty will spend $2 million over the next two years for on-campus safety improvements and compliance enhancements. These will be audited by an outside firm. The Department of Education will also continue monitoring Liberty through April 2026 to ensure its compliance.

“Students, faculty, and staff deserve to know that they can be safe and secure in their school communities. We respond aggressively to complaints about campus safety and security,” said Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray in the press statement.

“Through the Clery Act schools are obligated to take action that creates safe and secure campus communities, investigate complaints, and responsibly disclose information about crimes and other safety concerns. We will continue to hold schools accountable if they fail to do so.”

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In its statement about the fine, Liberty called the review that has been going on since 2022 “unfair treatment” as it faced “the most extensive review period of any higher education institution in the Department’s history of published reviews.”

It acknowledged “numerous deficiencies” in the past, adding that it regrets those and has made improvements.

“We have since addressed these errors through corrective measures, educational programming, changed policies and procedures, enhanced governance, increased expert staffing, additional investment in facilities, equipment, and software, and our renewed focus on student safety with our Title IX office being placed in the heart of the campus,” the statement read.

The Department of Education’s final review report listed 11 findings of failure by Liberty, including failing to comply with the Violence Against Women Act, inaccurate and incomplete disclosures about campus safety, and failure to issue emergency notifications as required by federal regulations.

Liberty President Dondi Costin said in a letter that the university has already spent $10 million since 2022 on improving infrastructure, security assets, and surveillance equipment. It has also trained employees about reporting and compliance requirements.

“Today is a new day at Liberty University. We remain committed to prioritizing the safety and security of our students and staff without exception,” Costin wrote.

Main photo: A sign marking an entrance to Liberty University in 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber via RNS)

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.