November 23, 2022
Pittsburgh Career Institute, a for-profit institution, planned to close effective Wednesday, primarily blaming the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to revoke recognition of its accreditor earlier this year.
The institute’s president said it could not survive amid restrictions the Education Department placed on colleges accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools — ACICS — including that they not enroll new students.
Some of the institute’s students were able to finish their programs before it shut down, while others can transfer to other local institutions, it said. The institute enrolled nearly 300 students as of fall 2021, according to the most recently available federal data.
The Pittsburgh Career Institute represents another institutional casualty in the drama surrounding ACICS, a long-troubled accreditor that caters primarily to for-profits.
In August, the Education Department pulled ACICS’ federal recognition, meaning it could no longer accredit colleges. Federally recognized accreditors are meant to ensure colleges meet financial and academic benchmarks and also serve as the gatekeepers of their federal Title IV aid.
When an institution loses accreditation, it also loses access to federal student aid dollars, without which most colleges cannot survive.
Accreditors themselves are subject to certain standards, which the Education Department said ACICS had not been in compliance with for years. After the department ended ACICS’ recognition earlier this year, it gave institutions under the accreditor’s purview 18 months to find a new one.
During that 18 months, ACICS-accredited colleges cannot enroll new students who would not be able to complete their programs in that time.