NAICU Washington Update

Education Department Moves to Terminate For-Profit Accreditor

June 04, 2021

A senior official at the Department of Education has terminated federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), a for-profit accreditor with a troubled history. The termination is effective immediately, although ACICS may opt to appeal the decision to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. 

The Department’s decision, which cites “significant and systemic noncompliance with multiple regulatory recognition criteria” over a period of multiple years, comes on the heels of similar recommendations to terminate ACICS’s federal recognition by career staff and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. If the decision to terminate is upheld, institutions currently accredited by the organization will have 18 months to seek a new accreditor in order to continue accessing federal student aid funds.

ACICS has struggled to maintain its status as a recognized accreditor since 2016, when the Obama Administration denied its request to renew its federal recognition. ACICS sued, and a federal court granted a partial victory to the accrediting agency. Subsequently, then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos ordered the temporary restoration of federal recognition for ACICS in a decision that was later extended for an additional period preceding the most recent review.

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