Dept of Ed staff recommend terminating DeVos-backed college accreditor

Staffers at the Department of Education recommended that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools no longer receive federal recognition.

In 2018, former education secretary Betsy DeVos reinstated the agency’s recognition after the Obama administration cut ties in 2016.

Staffers at the Department of Education recommended that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) no longer receive federal recognition, according to a public staff report. The oversight body mostly accredits for-profit colleges and acts as a gatekeeper for federal financial aid for students attending those colleges.

In 2018, former education secretary Betsy DeVos reinstated the agency’s recognition after the Obama administration cut ties in 2016.

However, the new recommendation for termination states that the agency “failed to demonstrate that it has competent and knowledgeable individuals, qualified by education and experience in their own right and trained by the agency on their responsibilities, as appropriate for their roles, regarding the agency's standards, policies, and procedures.”

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Accreditors help the federal government deem which colleges can receive federal student aid. If a school is not accredited, students cannot obtain federal education loans.

According to U.S. News, ACICS currently accredits 73 campuses. However, at its peak, ACICS worked with nearly 300 schools.


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The advisory committee will meet next February 25 to discuss the fate of the council. 

If the board votes in favor of terminating recognition, the agency can seek an appeal from the secretary, according to the Washington Post. However, if the appeal is denied, ACICS accredited schools will have 18 months to find a new agency to continue receiving federal financial aid.

Campus Reform reached out to ACICS for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

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