What’s next for colleges accredited by ACICS?
Higher Ed Dive
September 1, 2022
Last month, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it was withdrawing recognition of a long-troubled accreditor of for-profit colleges. The action followed years of warnings about the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, including that it had lax standards and oversaw colleges with poor student outcomes.
But ACICS is no longer the large-scale agency it used to be. When the Education Department yanked its federal recognition, ACICS only oversaw about two dozen colleges that together had about 5,000 students. That’s compared to more than 230 institutions with some 360,000 students six years ago.
“ACICS has basically served as a stain to college accreditation,” said Michael Itzkowitz, senior fellow of higher education at Third Way, a left-leaning think tank. “Its membership has dwindled over the past few years.”
Still, the Education Department is now responsible for keeping an eye on those remaining two dozen institutions as they seek new accreditors. They will have 18 months to secure approval from another agency or they will lose access to federal financial aid — potentially a fatal blow against their bottom lines.
But these colleges will also face heavy restrictions as they look for new accreditors. The Education Department is barring them from enrolling new students who wouldn’t be able to complete their programs within the 18-month timeframe and asking them to provide financial collateral in the event they collapse.
The next year and a half could prove perilous for these institutions as they scramble for new accreditors and attempt to comply with the Education Department’s restrictions.