As the global pandemic strains the higher education industry, regional accreditors on Monday warned the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology that it must improve its financial situation or risk losing its accreditation.
The school, which has about 500 students who earn degrees in subjects including automotive technology, cybersecurity, and electrical engineering, will have two years to correct the problems, according to the New England Commission on Higher Education, which met on September 25 to discuss the college.
Accreditors issued the school a notation, which means it will be closely monitored and evaluated during the two-year timeframe. If the college does not improve its finances, it could possibly be asked to prove why it should not have its accreditation withdrawn. Accreditation is important for several reasons, including that it enables students at the college to receive federal student loans.
The college, which recently sold its historic downtown building, is considering multiple short- and long-term ways to improve its finances, said Jed Nosal, chairman of the board of trustees of Benjamin Franklin. The building at 41 Berkeley Street is set to close in mid-2021, he said.
“The College’s board and senior leadership are committed to finding a financially stable pathway forward,” Nosal said in a press release sent Monday by accreditors.
The school recently drew $1.5 million from its endowment, according to its most recent tax filings, from fiscal year 2018, leaving an endowment of about $2.3 million.
Nosal said the institute’s mission is to serve as an affordable college in the region that prepares students for careers in technology. The school was founded in 1908 and traces its origins back to Benjamin Franklin himself, who left money in his will to start the school, which was later matched by money from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.
Today the institute enrolls 525 students, of which 74 percent are people of color and more than half are first-generation college students. More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Tuition for full-time bachelor programs is $9,000 per semester.