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Paine College announces new path to keep accreditation

November 1, 2017 Augusta: The campus of Paine College on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, in Augusta.    Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
November 1, 2017 Augusta: The campus of Paine College on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, in Augusta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Paine College, which began 136 years ago Thursday, announced a birthday present that is an important step for its future.

The Augusta college has been granted “candidacy status” by the Texas-based Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) accrediting commission, the college said Thursday in a press release. The status gives Paine all the rights of a fully-accredited college, which allows students to receive federal financial aid and their degrees to be recognized by other schools or employers. The candidacy is up for a period of five years, Paine said.

Paine was founded by Methodist church leaders and describes itself as a “church-related, liberal arts institution.”

Paine's future has been unclear. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash last month ruled in favor of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in its two-year-old legal battle with Paine, saying the organization was within its legal rights when it revoked Paine's accreditation in 2016. Paine had 30 days to respond to claims that the organization wanted addressed concerning Paine's finances in order to keep its accreditation.

College officials met with TRACS in Texas on Tuesday to make its pitch.

Paine said in Thursday’s press release it presented TRACS with evidence that its finances have improved, such as two years of audits that showed a reduction in debt and balanced budgets, and it has increased enrollment.

“The Paine College that exists today financially is very different than the one that existed three years ago,” DeKalb County Government CEO Michael Thurmond, Paine’s board chairman-elect, said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon.

Paine, a Historically Black College & University, also told TRACS it had the largest new student incoming class in eight years with 272 students. Its total enrollment is about 500 students, officials said last month.