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Bennett College loses accreditation, federal funds jeopardized
Last-gasp appeal scheduled for February
Published Thursday, December 13, 2018 10:02 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

Former Bennett College president Johnetta Cole, center, cuts the ribbon the Johnnetta Betsch Cole Honors Residence Hall in 2017. The school was  dropped as a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Tuesday, which puts it on the verge of losing federal funding.

Bennett College, one of two historically black colleges for women, is on the verge of losing its accreditation.

The Greensboro school has been dropped as a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges after two years on probation. Bennett, which was last on probation in 2003, maintains its accreditation until the board hears an appeal on Feb. 18.

“The door’s not closed all the way yet,” Bennett President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins told the News & Record newspaper in Greensboro.

Without accreditation, Bennett will lose access to federal Title IV funding, which is all but fatal to colleges enrolling middle- and low-income students. The school was found out of compliance with SACSCC rules on financial resources, and the accrediting board doesn’t extend probation beyond two years.

Bennett officials plan to reach out to donors – who surpassed a $4 million fundraising target set last year with $4.2 million – in an effort to improve the school’s finances before the February appeal. College leaders reported a surplus of $461,000 in the 2017-18 academic year compared to a $1.1 million deficit in 2016-17. Also, Bennett is one of 13 HBCUs to receive a deferment from the U.S. Department of Education via a $1.1 million reimbursement, which would improve the school’s bottom line.

Enrollment has been a struggle for Bennett, which at 469 undergraduate students is up 15 percent since last year, but far below the 780 reported in 2010.
UNCF, which financially supports HBCUs, said it is sticking by Bennett.

“At UNCF, not only do we stand by our member institutions, but we are also committed to supporting our members with the tools and resources to further enhance their sustainability and success,” UNCF President and CEO Michael Lomax said in a statement. “The fact that Bennett College has made significant improvements since being placed on accreditation probation two years ago is a testament to this Institution’s willingness and diligence to do everything it can to meet the standards set forth by its accrediting body and to ensure its students receive well-needed federal financial aid.”

Bennett was one of three North Carolina HBCUs on SACSCC probation. The other two, Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte and St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, had their accreditation extended for 10 years.


Please donate to Bennett College www.bennett.edu.
Posted on December 15, 2018

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