On Friday, I reported on Bethel University‘s fight with the U.S. Dept. of Education over how the ED has been conducting its test of financial health on U.S. private colleges and universities.
The feds say Bethel has failed it, and want it to post a multimillion-dollar letter of credit as a form of insurance.
But Bethel says it has easily passed the federal test, and that the feds’ calculations are way off — as well as inconsistent with federal regulations and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
As noted by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, about 70 other institutions have had similar issues with the feds.
So I asked Bethel’s finance chief, Kathleen Nelson, why it’s Bethel that has been public about its fight:
She told me:
What’s happening to Bethel is wrong. And what’s happening to all the other schools in similar situations is wrong. We want it fixed. I’m just not going to roll over on this issue. … My impression is that most other schools have been afraid to step out when they’ve been in this situation. I suspect that they’ve been afraid of what the story might do to their brand. However, for Bethel I wanted to be ahead of the story and explain that this is wrong — we have passed (the test) — and help bring light to the issue, so that the issue can be changed on a national level for all schools.”
(FYI, still no response from the department to my call that day.)