- In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education John King and the executive director of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, 13 states' attorneys general made a case against the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, arguing their accreditor recognition should not be renewed.
- The group says accreditors must protect students from “profit-seeking institutions offering training of no educational value,” but argues ACICS stands out with dismally low graduation rates and high student loan default rates.
- ACICS fails to enforce its own accreditation standards, provide strong enough oversight of institutions it accredits, and it has failed to take action in response to state and federal law enforcement investigations finding fault with ACICS-accredited schools, the letter says, calling the problems systemic and extreme.
The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity accepts public comments about applications to renew accreditor recognition. For schools to get access to federal financial aid, they have to be accredited by a department-approved accreditor. Should ACICS lose its approval, all of its members would lose their primary funding source. The accreditor focuses on higher education institutions that offer professional, technical, and occupational programs.
One major criticism is that top leaders of the for-profit colleges under investigation for wrongdoing sit on boards and committees of ACICS. But as accreditors initially came about as self-improvement mechanisms for schools, it is not a surprise they would be member-driven. The U.S. Department of Education has overseen a shift in expectations for accreditors that has occurred much more quickly than the actual shift in role.