Paine College looks to a new day with accreditation

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Officials at Paine College are describing the impact of the school’s now full accreditation as a “return to a position of prominence.”

After two years under review, Paine has finally has complete accreditation from TRACS. The school underwent its final evaluation back in Augusta.

With accreditation complete, we looked at where the college could go from here.

“Now we’ll be able to get students back on campus, student life back in rotation, and be a part of that proud lion spirit that we have," Paine alum Lanette Jones said.

The lion history spans across 138 years, but it’s the last two which caused the most attention for Paine College -- from financial woes, to leadership changes, to questions surrounding the validation of student coursework and their degrees.

It was alum like Jones who was devasted when the historically black college loss its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“You want to put in what you got out, so the alumni would come together to help come up with some ideas to help," Jones said.

Now, two years later, the school gaining full accreditation from another agency: the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, or TRACS.

To get it, the HBCU had to undergo continuous financial auditing, program reviews, even studying ways to improve retention rates.

TRACS found Paine’s enrollment dropped from more than 900 students back in 2013 to about 400 by 2017.

The school’s latest reported enrollment shows last year’s number remained around 400.

With most of its students relying on financial aid, Paine officials say this full accreditation offers more funding opportunities, meaning they’re now eligible for additional grants plus state and federal resources.

“You go through so many years with Paine and you see what is being done on campus and you see the excellence -- you see what is being produced," Jones said.

For this 2014 graduate and many more like her, they say they know Paine is capable of turning its legacy around once more. They’re hoping this will do it.

“Go ahead and enroll and let’s get this campus back to where it used to be," Jones said.

SACS still has not given the school accreditation. Paine has filed an appeal on that. The case remains pending in Georgia’s Supreme Court.

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