The accreditor Middle States Commission on Higher Education has withdrawn accreditation from the struggling for-profit ASA College. As a result, unless this decision is overturned on appeal, the ASA will lose access to federal student aid that has made up nearly two-thirds of its revenue. In a letter dated Nov. 11, Middle States told the ASA that accreditation will end on March 1, 2023, or sooner if the school fails to meet the accreditor’s requirements.
ASA, with campuses in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York, and Hialeah, Florida, offered programs in nursing, health care, information technology, business, and criminal justice. It reported revenue of $52 million for the 2020-21 academic year, including $33.6 million from federal taxpayers in the form of student grants and loans.
In October, ASA agreed to pay New York City $112,500 in penalties for misleading advertisements, many of which appeared to target immigrants and visitors to the United States, that were displayed on subway cars this year. The ads, which began running in January, went on display in February Republic Report article, thanks to photos sent to us by Subway riders, including staff from the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), a nonprofit legal service provider that often helps ripped off students.
Intermediate states cited for their new decision factors, including: ASA’s alleged failures “to demonstrate that it can provide a quality learning experience for students”, to demonstrate that it has sufficient financial resources and to provide intermediate states with an effective education plan providing education options for its students in the event of closure.
Intermediate states also pointed to an apparent action by the Ministry of Education to place the ASA on restricted HCM2 reimbursement status; ASA’s “non-compliance with salary obligations”; “failure to comply with the settlement agreement”; and ASA’s recently announced decision to close its Florida campus and not renew licensure in that state, which according to Middle States occurred “without notice to the Commission or approval required by it. this”. Additionally, Middle States cited “information received from local government agencies regarding the institution’s failure to comply with consumer protection laws related to advertising and the terms of a settlement agreement between ASA College and the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection”.
Middle States have requested that the ASA submit an adequate teaching plan and notify all students of the impending withdrawal of accreditation. He ordered the school, if it wants to retain accreditation until March, to stop recruiting or enrolling new students.
The ASA has long been the subject of controversy over its owner, Alex Shchegol, who was forced out as university president by its board of trustees three years ago amid allegations of gross sexual misconduct. Last year, Shchegol ousted most of the school’s board members and regained control. But after the New York Daily News revealed the upheaval, and after Middle States placed the school on probation last December, Shchegol stepped down as president again, effective December 31 last year. Shchegol remains the owner of ASA College.
To date, the ASA website does not adhere to the Middle States directive to inform prospective students of the accreditor’s action. Instead, its homepage offers several invitations to apply for registration.