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Student Defense Statement on Department of Education Revoking ACICS Accreditation Status

August 19, 2022

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Student Defense Statement on Department of Education Revoking ACICS Accreditation Status

Today, the U.S. Department of Education issued a final decision to terminate the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools’ (ACICS) recognition as a higher education accrediting agency. Student Defense Litigation Director Eric Rothschild issued the following statement regarding this determination:

“It’s great to see the Department take this long-overdue action to protect students and taxpayers. We are talking about an entity that accredited a school that didn’t even exist and continues to rubber stamp some of the worst for-profit colleges. Students count on accreditors to validate that the schools where they spend their time and money will meet a baseline level of quality. Today’s determination is an important step in that direction.”

This final determination comes more than a year after the Department initially revoked the organization’s accrediting status in June 2021. ACICS appealed the termination, resulting in a temporary stay of their revocation status that has allowed the organization to continue approving programs that are enrolling new students.

In November 2014, ACICS placed two Corinthian campuses on its “honor roll” after the chain shut down amid multiple investigations. ACICS also accredited programs at ITT Technical Institute, a for-profit school that shuttered in 2016 and will cost taxpayers around $5.8 billion dollars in student debt cancellation. In 2018, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reinstated ACICS’s recognition, allowing the entity to once again provide accreditation that allowed schools to access federal student aid funds. This caused taxpayers to lose millions of dollars when ACICS-accredited Education Corporation of America (ECA) schools closed precipitously at the end of 2018.

Congressional and state leaders have for years called for the accreditor to lose federal recognition. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) grilled former ACICS CEO Albert Gray in a 2015 Senate hearing. In 2016, twelve State Attorneys General called on the Department of Education to strip ACICS of its federal recognition.