Accrediting Agency for For-Profit Colleges Loses Accreditation
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Accrediting Agency for For-Profit Colleges Loses Accreditation

The agency was responsible for accrediting ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, both now defunct

September 23, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education has withdrawn recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), the independent agency responsible for accrediting many for-profit schools.

ACICS is appealing the department's decision, and it will continue normal operations while that appeal is being processed. It accredits around 254 colleges, many of which are for-profit institutions, that have a total enrollment of 600,000 students.

Roger Williams, ACICS interim president, stated that "While we are disappointed in this decision, ACICS plans to continue diligent efforts to renew and strengthen its policies and practices necessary to demonstrate this agency's determination to come into full compliance with the Department of Education's recognition criteria and, most importantly, to improve outcomes for the estimated 600,000 students currently attending ACICS-accredited institutions."

ACICS was the body responsible for accrediting the now-defunct for-profit colleges ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges.

If the agency's appeal is unsuccessful, all schools that it currently accredits will have to find a new accrediting body within 18 months.

A report issued by the Center for American Progress in 2015 criticized AICIS for not taking action against Corinthian sooner.

"In April 2014, while the Department of Education was actively investigating the company for its questionable job placement rates and just a few months before the department acted to start Corinthian's closure, ACICS renewed the accreditation of two Corinthian campuses and authorized a new branch campus," it noted.

Another finding issued in the report was that one out of every five borrowers who had attended a college accredited by ACICS defaults on his or her loans within a period of three years after beginning to repay them, a number 50 percent higher than the national average. These defaults then cost taxpayers money since many of the loans are backed by federal agencies.