Norfolk State University is facing uncertainty following action by its accrediting agency placing it on a one-year probation due to concerns about its finances, its governance and its full-time faculty, among other identified problems.

The accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), took the action after review of monitoring reports and financial statements.  Maintaining accreditation is an essential part of an institution being recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and its students being eligible for federal financial aid.

The University announced that it will host a SACSCOC Special Committee On-Site visit in the fall 2015 to demonstrate its compliance with the Principles of Accreditation—the accreditation standards of the Commission.

In an FAQ document released to the public, Norfolk State officials assured students that the school would not lose accreditation, stating in part, "While the action taken by the SACSCOC to place NSU on probation is very serious, the institution continues to be accredited. The NSU Board of Visitors and administration are fully committed and prepared to implement all of the necessary corrective actions to satisfactorily address the cited compliance areas of concern."

In addition, Norfolk State stated that responsibility for maintaining accreditation ultimately rested with its president, Eddie N. Moore, Jr., stating, "The President has the primary responsibility for ensuring that the university maintains its accreditation. The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is responsible for managing the SACSCOC accreditation process."

The school of more than 6,000 students is currently celebrating its 80th anniversary.

In a disclosure statement released announcing its placement  of Norfolk State on probation, the SACSCOC explained that probation "is the most serious sanction, short of loss of membership" that the accrediting body can impose upon a member.  

In December 2015, "The SACSCOC Board of Trustees will consider the accreditation status of Norfolk State University following review of financial statements and a Second Monitoring Report submitted by the institution addressing the standards cited above for non-compliance, and the report of a Special Committee that will visit the institution in fall 2015. The Board will have the following options: (1) remove the institution from Probation without an additional report; (2) continue accreditation for good cause and continue Probation, request an additional report, and authorize a special committee visit; and (3) remove the institution from membership with SACSCOC for failure to comply with the standards or failure to meet the provisions of good cause. Commission staff will not speculate on what decision might be made by the Commission’s Board in December 2015."

If you are a student, recent graduate or other individual with a concern about the implications or reasons surrounding Norfolk State's probation with its accreditor that you wish to share with an attorney at College Watchdogs, you may do so here or by sending an e-mail to

The Art Institute system of schools -- part of the for-profit Education Management Corp. -- has laid off hundreds of faculty and staff, according to a report by Pittsburgh Business Times.  More than 225 positions were eliminated at Art Institute campuses across the country.
On the eve of the resumption of classes following winter break, a Maine beauty school suddenly closed.  , with locations in Bangor and Lewiston, had been in operation since 1960.  The school charged its students more than $13,000 for training programs. Students and instructors were not immediately provided a reason for the closing.
A Bristol, Va.-based culinary close suddenly closed amidst a dispute with the U.S. Department of Education.  According to a report by WCYB, the Southwest 
Culinary Hospitality College closed after the school's eligibility for federal student loans was discontinued.  The school also allegedly owed more than $200,000 in payroll taxes.  About 70 students were reportedly enrolled in the school at the time of the closure.

Kaplan Education Services — the for-profit company that operates Kaplan University and Kaplan College campuses across the country — has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit raising allegations of unqualified instructors in Texas.  The lawsuit, initiated by whistleblower Leslie Powell, prompted a federal investigation into allegations of unqualified instructors leading medical assistant courses at the company's San Antonio campus.   The San Antonio Express News reported that the "lawsuit alleged that Kaplan knowingly requested, received, and retained federal tuition funds for courses taught by individuals who did not meet the minimum requirements established by Texas law. Following the federal investigation, the parties negotiated a settlement. The majority — roughly $1.07 million - will be paid in the form of tuition refunds. The refunds will benefit 289 students, whose student loan debt will decrease as a result of the settlement, Durbin said. The whistleblower also will receive a portion for bringing the allegations to light." 
Complaints about unqualified instructors are common in the for-profit school industry in which students often are charged tens of thousands of dollars for career training programs.  If you have concerns about the qualifications of instructors at a for-profit school, you may share them here.
Herzing University, a Wisconsin-based school that has operated for decades as a for-profit institution, has changed its status to non-profit at a time of increased regulation aimed at colleges and universities that operate as for-profit companies.
As reported in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the move to non-profit status "comes in the wake of new federal regulations on for-profit schools that drew widespread opposition from the industry."  The switch also takes Herzing out of oversight by a Wisconsin state agency.  
Herzing has a student enrollment of approximately 6,000 students in campuses across eight states.
New federal regulations implemented by the U.S. Department of Education will require for-profit schools to satisfy measures for "gainful employment" aimed at establishing that career-oriented programs actually are resulting in graduates obtaining well-paying  jobs in those fields.  The regulations will require schools to demonstrate that their students' annual loan payments back to the school are not more than 20% of their discretionary income or 8% of their total earnings. Failing to meet these "gainful employment" standards can result in schools' losing eligibility for federally funded student loan programs.

A state leader who has previously taken on for-profit schools for allegedly deceptive practices is now proposing new legislation to help people who borrow money to pay for their education.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, who filed suit in July 2014 against the Minnesota School of Business and Globe University alleging deceptive practices, is proposing new legislation that would require for-profit colleges to be more transparent about job placement and graduation, according to a Star-Tribune report.

The new "borrower's bill of rights" would also require private loan companies -- which often underwrite the expensive tuition at these schools through "preferred" lender arrangements -- to disclose interest rates and repayment options in clear ways not presently required.

According to the Star-Tribune report, "Swanson wants to require loan service companies to give periodic updates to students while still in school, and to 'clearly and conspicuously' disclose the amount owed, interest rates and due dates. It also would require the companies to work with delinquent borrowers to explain their payment options.  In addition, Swanson is asking the Legislature to require for-profit colleges to 'clearly disclose' if their course credits are unlikely to transfer to other public or private colleges, a frequent complaint. The legislation also would require for-profit schools to 'act in a student’s best interest at all times' and to disclose job placement and graduation rates for individual programs."