159 Private Colleges Fail Education Dept.’s Financial-Responsibility Test

According to a Chronicle analysis of data released on Friday, 159 degree-granting private colleges failed the U.S. Education Department’s financial-responsibility test, which seeks to quantify the financial health of proprietary and nonprofit institutions, for the 2013-14 academic year. That’s one more than failed the year before.

Of the 159 failing institutions, 93 are nonprofit and the rest are for-profit. For the previous year, 108 of the 158 failing institutions were nonprofit.

In calculating the data, the department considers institutions’ debt and assets, among other factors, in coming up with an individual score ranging from -1 to 3. Scores lower than 1.5 amount to a failing grade.

The latest scores cover institutions’ fiscal years ending from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014. For colleges whose fiscal year ends on July 1 or later, the data cover their 2013 fiscal years. For colleges whose fiscal year ends before that, the data are for 2014.

Notable among the failing institutions is ITT Educational Services Inc., a for-profit college that has been the subject of increased federal scrutiny in recent years.

Here’s an interactive look at the data:

[This post has been updated (3/23/2016, 12:52 p.m.) to reflect new data posted by the Education Department. According to a department official, Paul Quinn College, which was listed initially as scoring 1.4 — a failing grade — provided the department with "additional information" that resulted in the revision of its score to 3.0, which is well above the threshold for failing.]

Return to Top