The Middle States Commission on Higher Education announced that historically Black Cheyney University of Pennsylvania will retain its status as an accredited educational institution. The commission is requiring the university to file further reports concerning the reduction of debt and the sustainability of its finances.
In June the university announced that it has balanced its budget, a key factor in the accreditation process. A balanced budget is crucial to Cheyney’s future. If the university can show a balanced budget for the next three years, the state of Pennsylvania will forgive $30 million of the school’s $43 million in debt owed to the state’s higher education system. This reduction in debt would bolster the bottom line of the university.
James Sunser, vice chair of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, said in a statement that “as the non-compliance centered on the financial stability of the institution, the pledge by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to eliminate the institution’s debt to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the Office of the Chancellor greatly improved the institution’s financial outlook.”
Cheyney’s financial problems stem in part to a sharp drop in enrollments. In 2010, there were nearly 1,600 students enrolled at Cheyney University. By 2014, the number of students enrolled had dropped to just over 1,000. In the spring 2019 semester, there were just 415 students on campus. This semester enrollment grew to 618 students. With the announcement that the university will retain its accreditation, officials at Cheyney hope that enrollments will climb to 800 next year and 1,000 the year after.