By The Associated Press

Officials at a historically black private women’s college in North Carolina have lost their appeal to have the school’s accreditation restored.

News outlets report The Southern Association of Schools Commission on Colleges announced Friday that a panel had rejected Bennett College’s appeal, which was heard earlier this week.

Bennett College (Photo/The Associated Press Guide to Photojournalism via YouTube)

The decision leaves Bennett without accreditation for now. There was no immediate reaction from the school.

Imani Stephen, a sophomore at the school, said she was having lunch in the school cafeteria when she and her classmates got word of the decision by watching television.

“I don’t know how to feel exactly. I’m shocked. I’m hurt. I’m disappointed,” Stephen said. “I don’t really have the exact words to explain my emotions right now.”

School leaders have said previously that they will sue the agency. In previous instances, the commission has responded to lawsuits by agreeing to extend accreditation to accommodate the legal process.

In December, the commission revoked Bennett’s accreditation because it said the school didn’t have sufficient financial resources.

Bennett embarked on a fundraising campaign to maintain its accreditation and raised nearly $10 million. Nearby High Point University President Nido Qubein announced earlier this month that his school would donate $1 million to Bennett.

The News & Record of Greensboro reports the college had been on probation for two previous years — the most allowed under the commission’s rules — for financial concerns and other issues. Bennett posted six straight years of annual operating losses until 2016-17, the year that President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins became the college’s interim leader.