The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) lauds the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to terminate federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). This action will prevent schools accredited by ACICS from participating in federal financial aid programs.
Approximately 550,000 students are currently enrolled in schools accredited by ACICS. Many of these students are enrolled at for-profit colleges and universities. Two for-profit institutions, Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Education Services were both closed as a result of weak institutional performance standards, deceptive marketing practices, and abusive recruiting.
ACICS will have an opportunity to appeal the Department’s decision. If the decision stands after the appeal process is completed, schools under ACICS will have 18 months to find a new accreditor before their students lose access to Title IV funding.
CRL's Whitney Barkley, a policy counsel specializing in student loans, made the following statement:
The Department of Education took the right approach on terminating ACICS federal recognition. ACICS acted carelessly as gatekeepers of federal student aid funds and institutional quality, compromising the quality of education for thousands of students across the country, wasting taxpayer money, undermining schools in good standing, and creating a public distrust in the accreditation process.
This decision should not come as a surprise. Year after year, ACICS' lax standards have produced wrongdoing by for-profit colleges, such as Corinthian Colleges and more recently ITT Tech. Other institutions also under ACICS' watch have gone through or are going through multiple state investigations.
It is our hope that the Department's decision will set a precedent that lax accrediting standards will no longer be tolerated and encourages other accreditors to not accept schools with history of wrongdoing.
ACICS' actions will undoubtedly have a profound impact on students who are riddled with education debt. These students don't deserve to be punished for ACICS' negligence--they should have an opportunity to discharge their loans or transfer their credits to another institution.