An Atlanta-based historically Black college that has experienced the wrath of financial woes in the past is one step closer to its resurgence as an accredited institution. According to NBC News, Morris Brown College recently announced its accreditation application has been approved after nearly two decades.
The HBCU—which was the first educational institution in the state of Georgia to be owned and operated independently by African Americans—was initially accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, but ended up encountering several financial setbacks, including financial aid fraud and embezzlement committed by the school’s former president and financial aid director. The loss of its accreditation in 2002 led to a drop in enrollment since students were not able to receive federal loans; a factor that contributed to its surmounting debt. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the school—which enrolled nearly 3,000 students in the past—had less than 100 students during the fall semester of 2007 and by 2012 ended up filing for bankruptcy to erase millions of dollars in debt.
Despite the setbacks, the school persevered and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges recently approved its accreditation application which would give the institution eligibility to receive federal funding and the ability to provide students with financial aid packages. “This is history in the making,” Morris Brown College President Kevin James said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “Morris Brown intends to become the first HBCU to earn its accreditation back twenty years after losing it.” The school hopes the reaccreditation will lead to a significant increase in enrollment.
Morris Brown College isn’t the only HBCU that has had an uphill battle surrounding accreditation. Bennett College—a historically Black institution in Greensboro, N.C.—had to fight for its survival due to financial instability.