September 6, 2022
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools is planning to shut down operations by March 2024, it said Tuesday, shortly after the U.S. Department of Education revoked recognition of the accreditor.
ACICS, whose future has been in question for years, said it will not appeal the Education Department’s decision last month to pull its recognition. The department revoked recognition after determining that the accreditor continually failed to come into compliance with federal standards, sending the institutions under its purview scrambling to avoid losing access to federal financial aid.
In a statement, ACICS maintained that it has been in “substantial compliance with any objective, consistent, and reasonable interpretation” of Education Department criteria. It plans to work with the 44 institutions under its purview to prepare for its dissolution.
Tuesday’s announcement ends a yearslong battle over whether ACICS should be allowed to greenlight colleges to receive federal financial aid. Many policy advocates had called on the Education Department to end its recognition of ACICS, arguing that it approved institutions with abysmal student outcomes.
ACICS largely oversaw for-profit colleges. That includes ITT Technical Institute, which collapsed in 2016 after the Education Department restricted its federal financial aid access.
The Education Department ended ACICS recognition Aug. 19, citing noncompliance with standards such as having adequate resources and staff expertise. ACICS pushed back against those findings Tuesday, asserting that student outcomes had been improving at its institutions as the accreditor sought to enhance its processes.
“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,” ACICS President and CEO Michelle Edwards said in a statement. “Nevertheless, the time has come to initiate the steps necessary to dissolve the corporation.”
Institutions accredited by ACICS will have 18 months to find a new accreditor or they will lose access to Title IV federal financial aid.