August 19, 2022
The U.S. Department of Education on Friday ended recognition of a troubled accreditor of for-profit colleges, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, giving the institutions under its purview 18 months to find a new accrediting agency or risk losing access to federal funding.
ACICS used to accredit more than 230 colleges — including now-shuttered for-profit giants, such as ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges. Today, the beleaguered accreditor only oversees about two dozen institutions. Collectively, they enroll about 3,800 students, according to the Education Department.
“ACICS is known for accrediting some of the most infamous colleges, like Corinthian Colleges and ITT, that engaged in widespread wrongdoing,” James Kvaal, the Education Department’s top higher education official, said during a call with reporters Friday. “The cost of that wrongdoing to students and taxpayers is still being tallied.”
The sudden closures of those institutions left tens of thousands of students in the lurch and supercharged efforts to crack down on for-profit institutions.
Just this week, the Education Department announced it is discharging nearly $4 billion worth of student loans from those who attended ITT from 2005 to its closure in 2016. Federal officials accused the closed institution of subjecting students to high interest rates and illegal debt collection practices.