Story in the Chicago Tribune
- About SI
if the snag over accreditation agencies is overcome, how many students would actually benefit from this since one of the other requirements is wisconsin residency?
http://heab.state.wi.us/statutes.html#3930 ]wisconsin law lays what the accreditation requirements are:
I'd guess they're using the DOE's list of recognized accrediting agencies. See here for more details. I mentioned on another thread that when I recently applied for a federal job, it was explicit that I could include education only from institutions accredited by agencies on this DOE-approved list. My understanding is that this policy was put in place because of a scandal a few years back where a number of high ranking officials were found to have their highest degree (often required for their position) from diploma mills. On my app, it put me in the funny position of having a law degree but no undergrad!
More than likely the Wisconsin residency is a small hurdle to overcome. I know when I went to N, many of the students voted as a Wisconsin resident. It was some ridiculous short amount of time you had to be living in Wisconsin to be considered a resident to vote, like a week.
The headline is misleading. The TRACS is not the reason for the denial for tuition grants but the lack of accreditation from "the association used by most schools in the region". They are not faulting TRACS as if TRACS disqualifies someone, rather they are faulting the school with insufficient accreditation. What they probably are demanding is that the school be regionally accredited and not nationally.
But it is good that this is being appealed. The decision will very likely be in the school's favor and strengthen TRACS profile. And if they board does not decide in their favor I hope it goes to court.
Thanks for the correction Chris. Now that you mention it, I recall that the relevant detail in my case was that you could only list education if the institution was accredited at the time you earned your degree. So, you're right - my suggestion could not be the explanation in this case.
I would suggest that these issues will continue to hamper the cause as we further empower non-local church institutions (which must, in part, run as businesses and charge for their services), and institutions that are in some way dependent (directly or indirectly) upon government or external agencies for their financial survival.
TRACS is an approved agency of the DOE. This means it is a nationally recognized accrediting agency and falls under Wisconsin law as acceptable. While private employers may have the option of non acceptance the state of Wisconsin does not according to their own legal standards for these grants. An above poster provided a link to the DOE website of recognized accrediting agencies and TRACS is there.
I don't see how the headline is misleading.
Agency staff denied the school's request because it is not accredited by the association used by most schools in the region, it is accredited by an association of Christian Colleges. The latter clause is inserted between the preposition and the object of the preposition with the negative "not" dislocated from its verb.
Maybe you can submit this to a grammarian, they may have more to say. I certainly am not having heart failure but if I do, well you can make the headline:
"SI Poster Has Heart Failure Because His Cat Was On His Keyboard And Not Being Calm About Grammar And Headlines"
At which point you may find my cat and blame her for not being calm about grammar and headlines.
But you have enough to do without me trying to erase your headlines I suppose.
*** Forum Director Comment ****
Please drop the "misleading headline" discussion
Greg answered the issue .... time to move on
Not to make light of Northland's plight, but if someone would call Dave Ramsey with this concern, he would tell them to be thankful and consider it a blessing that they could not apply for a student loan. They are one of the worst financial products available in the United States today, and paralyze many students' financial futures. They also enable many students to go to college who probably do not really belong there -- at least until they mature and know why they are going and learn to appreciate the opportunity.
I agree with Kevin Subra's point in this sense -- it is unfortunate that we have opened the floodgates to dependence upon government to fund our Christian institutions. This story may also be prophetic as government grows increasingly hostile to Christianity -- leaving institutions the choice of either compromising spiritually or facing tremendous economic upheaval.
Greg answered the issue .... time to move on
Now back to the topic. It does not appear that if it goes all the way to court there is much of a chance of denial being upheld. My guess is someone will get wise before hand...but who knows? As Bob T. pointed out there is the DOE validation that will make it a fatal flaw in the denial if it went as far as court.
The question seems to be is "Wisconsin trying to make a point?" or is this an ignorant bureaucratic snafu? Perhaps NIU already knows and is responding accordingly. Having worked with the US Dept. of Education (that is ED.gov, not DOE [which is the Dept. of Energy ]) Office of Postsecondary Education, it is known in higher ed circles that the Secretary's list of recognized accrediting agencies is the way Congress knows who is a nationally recognized accrediting agency. One wonders whether the Trib/AP reporter knows what he/she is talking about when he/she characterizes the Wisconsin bureaucrats as following criteria that is different than stated in the Wisconsin statute. It will be important and interesting to follow the bureaucratic response to this issue.
It is not uncommon for state agencies to use regional accreditation as a standard recognition for state-funded programs. Florida is similar to Wisconsin in their funding of state grants/scholarships to college students. Clearwater Christian College (http://www.clearwater.edu) is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the regional agency for the southern region, and our in-state students receive Florida Resident Access Grants (FRAG). On the other hand, Trinity Baptist College is accredited by TRACS, but their students may not receive FRAG funding.
Does Florida specify that distinction, or is it an interpretation of a state statute or reg?
I wanted to point readers to the following link (http://www.ni.edu/about/news/fall-2010/northlands-appeal.htm) where Northland posted a statement regarding the meeting with the Wisconsin Higher Education Aids Board last week. We sent four representatives to the meeting, and I acted as our spokesman. The meeting was very cordial and remained positive throughout. Interestingly, one of the first pieces of business was a report from the HEAB director that all state funds for the 2009-2010 budget year had already been committed and that several Wisconsin students, who would otherwise be eligible for state aid, will not receive it for this coming school year. One of the main reasons for this is both a national and state phenomena due to the current economic climate: many people are heading back to school to receive further training or re-training either because they have lost their job or want to improve job security. The HEAB budget won't be able to handle the sheer volume of students who meet eligibility requirements this year. They are now dealing with complaints from many students, some of whom received aid last year but won't this year because they ended up toward the end of the application line, so to speak. This information flavored the rest of the proceedings and seemed to limit the sense of urgency in the minds of the board members in regard to our appeal, since granting the appeal would be a moot point for Northland students for this coming year.
Our arguments seemed to resonate with the board, but in light of the above information and in order to verify our claims, they tabled a decision until either their next meeting in October or the one thereafter in February. We were assured that even if a favorable decision came as late as February, it would not jeopardize our students' ability to apply for aid for the following school year. The AP article seemed to imply that the board had denied our students access to state aid at last week's meeting, but denial actually came last year not from the board but from the HEAB staff. The staff indicated they were unable to make an exception for us, since the board itself must grant approval. So, we asked and were placed on the agenda for the board meeting last week. The essence of our appeal centered on the state statute itself which indicates the need for a "nationally recognized accrediting agency," (see above post which contains the actual wording of the statute), but the HEAB policies and procedures manual contains the following statement in their list of requirements: "The school must be accredited through a federally accepted accrediting agency (HEAB recognizes the Higher Learning Commission of the Northcentral Association of Colleges and Schools)." Neither the staff nor the board was familiar with the history of this wording in the manual. So to answer the question from the poster above, no one has been able to ascertain whether or not the above wording was intentionally selected to discriminate against other approved accreditors or was simply meant to be a clarification that North Central happens to be the regional accreditor for the state of Wisconsin. I can't speak for those responsible for the wording, and no one on the current staff or board of the HEAB seems able to do so either. You may also notice that the state statute indicates provision for a school whose credits are accepted for transfer by at least three accredited schools, so in order to further substantiate our appeal (and meet the law in not one but two points), we provided transfer agreements by more than three North Central regionally accredited schools.
So, as we say on the website, we are very hopeful that after having a chance to review the documents we submitted, verify their authenticity, and think through our arguments, the board will uphold what we believe to be a proper interpretation of the state statute, and grant our appeal. We will of course provide an update of the outcome of the next hearing on www.ni.edu.
Kevin Priest, Ed.D.
Northland International University
Dr. Priest -
Welcome to SI!
This is very encouraging and enlightening. Thank you so much for sharing it with us so that we know how properly to pray for the Northland Ministries; please keep us informed of whatever progress they make, as the AP reports are somewhat incomplete.
Yes, the FRAG program is specifically intended for undergrads who attend regionally accredited, private colleges and universities that are members of ICUF. Here's more information about it -- http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/ssfad/factsheets/FRAG.htm and a list of elgible private instituitions -- https://www.floridastudentfinancialaidsg.org/admin/SAWELIGPSI_ByProg.asp...
Kevin, thank you very much for posting Northland's update. NIU's statement sheds light on the situation.
After reading the FRAG and ICUF information, it looks like Wisconsin is not similar at all to Florida in their administration of student aid programs. Neither state has statutory language that specifies regional accreditation recognition, but Florida seems quite specific in naming their State Board of Education as the entity empowered to determine acceptable accrediting agencies. Evidently Wisconsin allowed their HEAB to interpret their statutes. It may be that when the statute was written the term "nationally recognized" only logically related to regional accreditation. The inclusion of the "three letter rule" concept, which was common practice in the 60s, 70s, & 80s, seems to indicate that the statute was written some time back. It was under that rubric that BJU grads gained entrance to dozens of grad schools back in the day. However, since that time program specific accreditation agencies have proliferated and have been formally recognized by the Secretary of Education.
Since my interaction with the Dept. of ED's postsecondary division 20+ years ago it seems that the Federal approval mechanism has gained more power in the Higher Ed community. At least that seems to be the message from the INSIDE HIGHER ED writer. It will be very interesting to see what Wisconsin decides and what their rationale may be. TRACS has had its share of PR challenges, and so the future may be very definitive for that organization. Dr. Henry Morris was the original driving force behind TRACS and his legacy is yet to be written in this area.