In a surprising turn of events following the defunct ITT Tech closure, the accrediting agency that gave the school its stamp of approval has now lost its own recognition from the government.
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) accredits roughly 245 colleges, enrolling 600,000 students. Many of these schools are for-profit colleges, as was ITT Tech.
On Thursday, the government confirmed it’s moving forward with its plans to revoke the authority of the ACICS which means they have 30 days to appeal this decision.
Should ACICS appeal and not win, the schools currently accredited by the agency, have 18 months to find other accreditations.
The reason the accreditations are so important is that without them, schools are not eligible for federal financial aid such as Pell grants and federal student loans. Without the federal government’s financial aid, students aren’t able to borrow money to attend and are forced to pay out of pocket.
This is a huge issue for for-profit colleges as they have some of the highest tuition in the country. If these students don’t have access to federal student loans, the schools have no choice but to close.
This is precisely what happened to ITT Tech and the Corinthian Colleges (Everest, Wyotech, and Heald) that shut down last year.
The default rate amount ACICS schools is another concern surrounding the agency. Nearly 21% of students attending one of the ACICS schools default on their federal student loans within three years of leaving school.
For these reasons, critics of the industry applaud Thursday’s decision, “For far too long, this delinquent and derelict accreditor have rubber-stamped the flow of federal dollars to colleges, and universities that engaged in widespread fraud and abuse,” said Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal.
It seems as though the end is getting near but it’s not clear how much longer the industry will manage to hang on.