Seven Missouri private colleges and six from Kansas have failed a U.S. Department of Education test of their financial responsibility during the 2014-2015 academic year.
The Chronicle of Higher Education this week released analyzed data that found 177 degree-granting colleges across the country failed the test, 18 more than had failed the previous year.
Most of those failing were nonprofits. Only 65 of the failing schools were for-profit institutions. Among them was Wright Career College, a for-profit private school that was based in Overland Park and closed in April 2016 after going bankrupt.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that in determining whether an institution passes or fails, the Education Department considers an institution’s debt and assets, among other factors.
Scores given range from negative-1 to 3, and any score below 1.5 is considered failing. These schools are subject to cash monitoring and other federally imposed requirements.
A school could raise concerns about its financial responsibility and end up on the monitoring list for late financial statements, outstanding liabilities and accreditation issues.
The scores are made public by the federal Education Department as some broad indication of the financial health of thousands of two- and four-year schools. The idea is to give tuition-paying students and parents a better look at what their money is buying and how it’s being used.
“The department’s methodology in devising the scores has drawn sharp criticism in the past from some higher-education groups,” the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.
Among the schools in Missouri listed with a failing score for the 2014-2015 academic year is Westminster College in Fulton with a score of 1.1. But school officials said the college has subsequently improved performance and the reported score “does not reflect our college’s current financial conditions,” said Lana Poole, college spokeswoman.
Poole said Westminster’s composite score for financial responsibility would increase to 2.7 for the 2015-2016 academic year, which would be reported next year.
“Like many private colleges, Westminster had been impacted by various economic and demographic factors that ultimately led to the 2014-2015 rating,” Poole said.
Failing Kansas schools: Bethany College in Lindsborg and Bethel College in North Newton each scored 0.6; Kansas Christian College, Overland Park scored 1.2; Ottawa University scored 1; and Wichita Technical Institute of Kansas scored 1.1.
In Missouri: Wentworth Military Academy and Junior College in Lexington, the Metro Business College at Cape Girardeau, and the Southeast Missouri Hospital College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Cape Girardeau scored 1.5, putting them just above failing.
Other failing Missouri schools: WellSpring School of Allied Health in Kansas City, 0.2; Research College of Nursing in Kansas City scored 0.3; Evangel University in Springfield, 0.6; Hanibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, 1.4; Concord College in Kansas City, 1.1; and Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, 1.