Paine College in Augusta has won back a temporary reinstatement of its accreditation and continues to press for full accreditation. BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Historically black college wins reprieve from accreditation loss

A federal judge has reinstated the accreditation on probation of Paine College in Augusta, a small historically black college.

The Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges removed Paine from its list of accredited colleges for failures to meet standards for financial resources and stability and control of sponsored research and external funds.

SACSCOC is the regional accrediting body for degree-granting colleges and universities in the Southeast and parts of Latin America.

Michael Thurmond, an Atlanta attorney and alumnus of Paine, said the college appealed the organization’s decision to a federal court in Georgia, which reinstated the accreditation of Paine College as accredited on probation. Paine College will continue as a member on probation pending a further decision of the court.

The accreditation is important because the school is not eligible to participate in federal education programs such as financial aid without it. About 95 percent of the school’s students receive financial aid. Historically black colleges and universities have also recently been negatively affected by some changes in college loan regulations.

Thurmond said the months-long process of investigation by SACSCOC and concerns by students and parents has already led to the college losing about 350 students. The college had 533 students begin classes this fall, he said.

Paine has filed a lawsuit against SACSCOC, alleging improprieties in the way the process was handled.

Thurmond said the college has made much progress in addressing the issues that SACSCOC pointed out.

Samuel Sullivan, president of Paine College, expressed satisfaction with the federal court’s action.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the decision made by the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. We believe strongly that Paine has demonstrated to SACS that our financial condition is significantly improved and that we should remain fully accredited,” he said.

You can see notable alums from Paine College here.

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