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Anthony Bieda, an ACICS spokesman, said his organization has been in regular contact with the Department of Education since the Forward investigation was published last year. A team of inspectors from ACICS visited MJI in February as a routine part of the accreditation process.
Since then, ACICS has deferred its decision to grant a renewal of accreditation, in April and in August, while it awaits further information from MJI.
“There has been a lot of scrutiny, interest and questions about how we’re applying our standards to this particular institution through the course of renewal grant and the special visit we did in February,” Bieda said.
Bieda would not reveal why ACICS has deferred accreditation. “It’s between us and the school,” he said. “But it has to do with compliance with our standards and expectations.”
Bieda said that it was not unusual for ACICS to defer a renewal grant of accreditation once. But, he added, “It’s more unusual to have it deferred twice, and it’s extremely rare to have it deferred a third time.”
If ACICS does defer its decision again in December, it would have to formally issue an extension of its current grant of accreditation so that MJI’s students can continue to receive federal aid. In theory, according to Department of Education guidelines, that situation could repeat itself through 2014.
Glickman said that if MJI were to lose its accreditation, the college could appeal. In such a case, “The institution remains accredited until the decision on the appeal is made, and students are able to get Title IV [Pell] aid,” she said.
Contact Paul Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @pdbergerThousands of Jewish students are at risk of losing their federal student aid — and a Midwest Jewish college risks closure — after Michigan Jewish Institute failed for a second time to win accreditation.
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools deferred its decision to grant the Chabad-affiliated MJI accreditation until December 13.
MJI’s current grant of accreditation, which is required for students to receive Federal Pell Grants worth $5,500 per year, runs out at the end of 2013.
A Forward investigation in the fall of last year revealed that MJI received $25 million in federal aid between 2008 and 2012 despite graduating hardly any students.
So far this year, the college has received $8.6 million in federal funds.
Only American citizens are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant Program, the government’s largest education aid program targeting low-income students. Almost all of MJI’s students are enrolled in study-abroad programs, mainly in Israel, and in online programs. Few, if any, of the students complete their degree courses.