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For-Profit Stratford University Closing

Another for-profit university is closing because of accreditation issues. Stratford University is closing its campuses in Virginia, Maryland and India at the end of the term, according to an email sent to students last Friday. Forty-three other schools around the country are also losing their accreditation.

The school said the U.S. Department of Education decertified its accrediting agency, which prevents it from enrolling new students.

In the email to students, university president Dr. Richard R. Shurtz said he was making the announcement with a “heavy heart.” He said “unfortunate circumstances” led up up to the decision. “We worked hard to save the school, leaving no stone unturned. We almost had an investor from Silicon Valley, but the actions of the Department made the deal impossible,” Shurtz said.

Headquartered in Alexandria, Va., the private, for-profit school has 1,682 students. The Education Department’s College Scorecard lists Stratford with a graduation rate of 30%, well below the national midpoint of 57% for four-year schools. It ranks its average annual cost at $24,789, compared to the national midpoint of $19,526; 51% of its students have federal loans and graduate with a debt of $33,374.

Stratford was accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), which is winding down its operations after being stripped of its authority by the DOE. “ACICS will work with its remaining 44 accredited institutions with 67 campuses to prepare for the transition,” the organization said.

On August 19, 2022, the Deputy Secretary of Education issued a final decision upholding the termination of ACICS as a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

The decision followed a series of investigations that began in 2016, when the Education Department first terminated ACICS. The organization appealed and then-Secretary Betsy DeVos reinstated ACICS in 2018.

The decision follows a several years-long process that began in 2016, with ED’s decision to terminate recognizing ACICS, the Education Department said. ACICS’s appeal to have its recognition reinstated was denied by then Secretary John King. ACICS followed that decision with a lawsuit against ED. After a federal judge required ED to consider new evidence, Secretary DeVos reinstated ACICS in 2018.

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