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For-Profit Colleges’ Status at Risk as Panel Vets Accreditor

For-Profit Colleges’ Status at Risk as Panel Vets Accreditor

Bloomberg Government

  • Education Department seeks termination of accreditor ACICS
  • Decision would affect about 70 schools, 50,000 students

A federal watchdog will vote Thursday on calls from the Education Department to yank approval from an accreditor that oversaw the collapse of several national for-profit college chains.

The accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, or ACICS, oversaw two defunct chains — Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute — that closed and left the federal government on the hook for tens of millions in canceled student loans.

College accreditors are in charge of monitoring college quality and are the gatekeepers for federal student aid such as grants and loans. Millions of dollars in revenue are at stake for college programs that haven’t found approval elsewhere amid intense scrutiny of ACICS.

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, the federal board that monitors college accreditors, will weigh four separate reviews from career Education Department officials that recommend ACICS’s termination before making its own recommendation.

President Joe Biden promised a return to tougher oversight of poor-quality college programs, especially in the for-profit sector. The vote Thursday is an initial step in a process that critics of ACICS say will show the Biden administration’s commitment to accountability in higher education.

“If the Biden administration does decide to withdraw recognition from ACICS, it will be an indication they are not prepared to play games,” said Clare McCann, deputy director of higher education policy at the think tank New America and a former department official.

ACICS didn’t respond to a request for comment.


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