The Republic Report
Accreditor Middle States Commission on Higher Education has withdrawn accreditation from troubled for-profit ASA College. As a result, unless that decision is reversed on appeal, ASA will lose access to the federal student aid that has made up almost two-thirds of its revenue. In a letter dated November 11, Middle States told ASA that accreditation will end on March 1, 2023, or earlier if the school fails to meet the accreditor’s conditions.
ASA, with campuses in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York, and Hialeah, Florida, has offered programs in nursing, health care, information technology, business, and criminal justice. It reported revenues in the 2020-21 academic year of $52 million, with $33.6 million of that total coming from federal taxpayers through student grants and loans.
In October, ASA agreed to pay New York City $112,500 in penalties for deceptive ads, many seeming to target immigrants and visitors to the U.S., that were displayed on city subway cars this year. The ads, which began running in January, were exposed in a February Republic Report article, thanks to photos sent to us by subway riders, including staff of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), a non-profit legal services provider that often assists ripped-off college students.
Middle States cited for its new decision factors including: ASA’s alleged failures “to demonstrate that it can provide a quality student learning experience,” to demonstrate it has sufficient financial resources, and to provide Middle States with an effective teach-out plan providing education options for its students in the event of closure.
Middle States also pointed to an apparent action by the Department of Education to put ASA on restricted HCM2 reimbursement status; ASA’s “failure to meet payroll obligations”; “failure to comply with settlement agreement”; and ASA’s recently announced decision to close its Florida campus and not renew licensure in that state, which Middle States said occurred “without notification to or required approvals by the Commission.” In addition, Middle States cited “Information received from local government agencies regarding the institution’s noncompliance 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 asked ASA to submit an adequate teach-out plan and to notify all students of the pending withdrawal of accreditation. It directed the school, if it wants to keep accreditation until March, to stop recruiting or enrolling new students.
ASA has long faced controversy regarding Its owner, Alex Shchegol, who was forced out as the college president by his board three years ago amid allegations of egregious sexual misconduct. Last year, Shchegol ousted most of the school’s board members and regained control. But after the New York Daily News exposed the upheaval, and after Middle States last December placed the school on probation, Shchegol resigned again as president, effective last December 31. Shchegol remains ASA College‘s owner.
As of today, ASA’s website does not meet Middle States’ directive to inform prospective students of the accreditor action. Instead, its home page features multiple invitations to apply for enrollment.
UPDATE 11-14-22 12:49 pm:
NYLAG reports that it is hosting a hotline for current and former students of ASA’s New York campuses to get free legal advice– phone: 212-659-6166; email: ASAHotline@nylag.org.
UPDATE 11-15-22 10:50 am:
ASA’s website now notes the Middle States action to end accreditation and states that the school is not accepting applications for enrollment.
Originally published in The Republic Report on November 13, 2022