Arkansas Baptist College got a dire warning from the Education Department last year. So many students had defaulted on their loans that the college was at risk of losing access to federal aid.
That threat is one of the biggest weapons the agency has to police the performance of colleges and universities. But the warning to Arkansas Baptist also came with an offer of help, says Yvette Wimberly, a dean at the college.
For the next six months, the Education Department told the college how to look for errors in its student-loan data. Arkansas Baptist identified at least three students who were murdered after they left the college. Fixing that and other data problems cut the default rate enough to save Arkansas Baptist.