September 6, 2022
The Board of Directors of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) announced today its intention to begin an orderly dissolution of the corporation, following the August 19 decision by Deputy Secretary of Education, Cindy Marten, to terminate ACICS’s recognition status.
Furthermore, while we maintain that ACICS has been in substantial compliance with any objective, consistent, and reasonable interpretation of the recognition criteria, the organization will not appeal the August 19 decision.
ACICS will work with its remaining 44 accredited institutions with 67 campuses to prepare for the transition. Approximately two thirds of ACICS campuses currently participate in the Title IV program. According to guidance from the Department, those schools will be considered “as holding nationally recognized accreditation for a period of up to 18 months,” including maintaining Title IV eligibility. The Title IV eligible institutions will be placed on provisional certification until they receive accreditation by another recognized accreditor. If they do not receive accreditation within the 18-month period, they will cease to be considered a nationally recognized accredited institution and will lose Title IV eligibility at that time.
For those ACICS campuses that do not participate in the Title IV program, the decision issued on August 19 may not directly affect them. There are several other reasons to maintain accreditation, including compliance with state licensing agencies, higher education commissions, other private postsecondary education oversight agencies, as well as the terms of student enrollment contracts. While ACICS is no longer recognized by the Department, it will continue to provide oversight and quality assurance, including monitoring financial stability and student achievement, to these institutions until they either find another accreditor and/or voluntarily withdraw from ACICS.
It is worth noting that in the last five years, ACICS initiated many changes to enhance the rigor and quality of the ACICS accreditation process, ensure quality education and hold its schools to higher student outcome standards. The impact of those efforts is clear.
As reported in the most recent Campus Accountability Report (CAR), the average student retention rate is 83 percent, which is 4 percent higher than the previous year and over 72 percent of campuses reported placement rates above the compliance standard of 60 percent.
According to the most recently published Accreditor Dashboards, ACICS institutions reported a 60 percent average graduation rate. Additionally, our institutions reported a 9 percent average Cohort Default Rate (CDR).
Notably, 31 institutions with a total of 42 campuses have pursued and received recognition from other accreditors in the past three years. ACICS supported those schools throughout that process and their approval by another accreditor is a clear testament to the rigor and quality of the ACICS accreditation process. Additionally, currently there are no ACICS campuses owned by publicly traded companies.
“As this data make clear, ACICS was serving its role as an accreditor, providing an important service to institutions of higher education, the students they serve and ultimately, the communities in which they live and work,” said Michelle Edwards, ACICS President and CEO. “I am extremely proud of the work we have done, especially in the last five years. Nevertheless, the time has come to initiate the steps necessary to dissolve the corporation. In its 110 years of service as an accreditor, ACICS has had the honor of working to advance educational excellence at independent, nonpublic career schools, colleges, and organizations in the United States and abroad. We will continue to uphold those principles as we wind down our operations.”
ACICS estimates that it will conclude accreditation operations no later than March 1, 2024.