- U.S. Department of Education officials on Wednesday called for the termination of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, two days after recommending strict rules to punish "fraudulent" or "financially risky" schools that take advantage of students.
- The action follows a call from governors and states attorneys general to shut down schools that exploit vulnerable students to pay for degrees that don't translate into solid employability.
- If enacted, schools under the accrediting body would have 18 months to join similar agencies or risk losing access to federal financial aid disbursements.
Shutting down fraudulent schools to help ensure greater return on educational investment for students and graduates is an effort all people can support. But reading between the lines of the department's new policy yields some concerning potential outcomes for smaller liberal arts institutions as well.
New rulemaking says that fraudulent and financially risky schools may be subject to disclosure and repayment penalties, which jeopardizes for-profit schools, but also other institutions, like Hispanic-serving institutions and historically black colleges. The department remains in negotiations about how to more evenly apply the new rules with fewer unintended consequences, but with yesterday's announcement, it remains to be seen if that effort supersedes the department's rescue of misguided students and taxpayers.