In another blow for the for-profit college industry, the U.S. Department of Education is withdrawing its recognition of the independent agency that accredits many for-profit schools.
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) is appealing the decision and will continue to operate while the appeal is processed. It accredits about 245 colleges that enroll 600,000 students. Many of its colleges are for-profit schools.
“While we are disappointed in this decision, ACICS plans to continue diligent efforts to renew and strengthen its policies and practices necessary to demonstrate this agency’s determination to come into full compliance with the Department of Education’s recognition criteria and, most importantly, to improve outcomes for the estimated 600,000 students currently attending ACICS-accredited institutions," the agency's interim president, Roger Williams, said in a prepared statement.
ACICS was the accrediting agency for ITT Tech and Corinthian, both of which collapsed under the pressure of multiple investigations by federal and state agencies.
Is your school affected?
If the appeal is not successful, schools accredited by ACICS will have 18 months to find a new accrediting agency. Is your school accredited by ACICS? Find out here.
In September 2015, a report by the Center for American Progress faulted ACICS for not taking action sooner against Corinthian Colleges.
“In April 2014—while the Department of Education was actively investigating the company for its questionable job placement rates and just a few months before the department acted to start Corinthian’s closure—ACICS renewed the accreditation of two Corinthian campuses and authorized a new branch campus,” the report noted.
The report also found that one out of every five borrowers at an ACICS-accredited college defaults on his or her loans within three years of entering repayment, 50% higher than the national average. Many of those loans are backed by federal agencies, meaning that the defaults wind up costing taxpayers.