June 2, 2021
The U.S. Department of Education is moving to terminate the federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, a decision that would require the institutions it oversees to find a new accreditor in order to continue to access federal financial aid funding.
This is not the first time ACICS has had its recognition pulled. The department under the Obama administration revoked it in 2016, though the Trump administration reverted the status two years later.
ACICS said in a statement on its website that it plans to appeal the decision. If it loses the appeal, its colleges would have 18 months to find a new accreditor.
Jordan Matsudaira, a senior department official and recent political appointee, handed down the decision. It falls in line with a recommendation from department staff to nix ACICS’s recognition, which the department’s accreditation advisory group largely co-signed earlier this year.
Department staff contended ACICS was falling short of meeting key oversight requirements, including training its site visitors and monitoring schools’ financial health. The head of ACICS pushed back, arguing it was compliant and blamed “activist groups and political opponents of career colleges” for undue scrutiny.
In a 78-page letter dated Wednesday explaining the latest decision, Matsudaira wrote that the accreditor’s “significant and systemic noncompliance with multiple regulatory recognition criteria leaves me no reasonable option but to terminate its recognition, effective immediately.”