Here is a message I shared with the College community earlier today:
I am pleased to give you good news on the status of our Aviation Technology Center (ATC).
You will recall that when a college offers more than 50 percent of courses for a specific program at a location geographically separate from a main campus, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) must approve the site. Further, colleges are prohibited by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) from disbursing federal financial aid for programs at sites that have not been HLC-approved.
We discovered that PCC had never obtained this approval for the ATC site, and self-disclosed this fact to the HLC and ED. We immediately filed for approval with the HLC, and did not disburse financial aid to Aviation students for the summer semester. Instead, the College and the PCC Foundation provided affected students with institutional and Foundation scholarships.
I want to emphasize that through this whole process the Aviation program itself has remained fully accredited and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the HLC.
On June 27, 2016, the HLC approved the ATC at Pima Community College as an additional location. This means that the College is able to offer the various Aviation degrees and certificates at the ATC. This approval also allowed the College to seek approval from ED to offer federal financial aid at this location.
We are awaiting final approval from ED, but based on our conversations with them, we are optimistic that this will occur before the fall financial aid disbursement date of September 9. We also have learned that the Department is in the process of reviewing our Program Participation Agreement (PPA) and updating our Eligibility & Certification Approval Report (ECAR), which contains the ED list of Pima’s approved locations. These are very positive signs.
On Thursday, August 4, 2016, Aviation leadership met with students, updated them on our progress, and discussed the College’s efforts to ensure that financial aid students remain unaffected. The College is working to have contingency plans in place, should the ED approval be delayed past September 9.
I am encouraged by these developments, and I am proud of the staff and faculty who proactively identified this issue, and have been working to correct it. Thanks to their efforts, this is one more example of the College’s progress toward becoming a premier institution of learning.