Historically Black Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, has experienced a major setback that could result in the loss of its accreditation status. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash ruled in favor of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in its lawsuit battle with Paine College. Judge Thrash ruled that none of the claims made by Paine in the 2016 lawsuit were factual and the SACSCOC was in its legal rights to revoke the college’s accreditation. The college has 30 days to appeal the ruling and will retain its accreditation during that period.
The SACSCOC first questioned Paine’s financial status in 2011 after the Augusta Chronicle reported that the college lost eligibility for a federal student loan program, had not returned unused financial aid for students who withdrew, and bounced many financial aid checks among other financial issues. After a two-year probationary period, SACSCOC voted to remove Paine’s accreditation in 2016. The college sued in response and obtained an injunction preventing the association from moving forward until the suit was settled. As long as the injunction is in place, Paine still has its accreditation. Currently, the college is seeking accreditation from a different agency, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
Despite these issues, Paine College President Jerry Hardee remains hopeful about the college’s future. “I am optimistic that all the issues related to the survival of Paine College will be resolved in due time,” he said. “Without institutions like Paine there would not be a black middle class in this country.”