Ed Dept staff recommend terminating recognition of troubled accreditor ACICS

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • U.S. Department of Education staff isrecommend the agency terminate its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, a move requiring the institutions it accredits to find a new accreditor or else lose access to financial aid.
  • In a report published Friday, the department said the embattled college accreditor hadn’t met essential oversight requirements that aim to ensure quality evaluations of schools.
  • The recommendation will be discussed at a meeting of the department’s accreditation advisory group next month, and a formal decision will follow.

Dive Insight:

If ACICS loses recognition, its overseas colleges will have 18 months to find a new accreditor to keep accessing federal financial aid. That’s a dwindling bunch, however.

The accreditor’s website lists around 70 institutions and branch campuses, down from more than 250 colleges in late 2016 when the department pulled its federal recognition following the collapse of two for-profit chains it accredited. The agency under former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reinstated its credit two years later, despite objections from staff.


Since then, however, the department has continued to find the accreditor out of compliance with several of its regulations. A committee of an industry group that vets accreditors recommended revoking its endorsement of ACICS. In response, ACICS pulled its application to be considered by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation group.

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