As ACICS Concedes Its Shortcomings, Will DeVos Undo Her Decision Before More Students Are Steered Towards Debt Disaster?
Washington D.C. – Chronically-troubled for-profit college accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools [ACICS], has reportedly thrown in the towel on its effort to gain recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the premiere private association for determining the legitimacy of higher-ed accreditors. The concession puts enormous pressure on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to cut off ACICS’ federal recognition and prevent any more students from taking on mountains of debt based on shoddy accreditation standards.
In December 2019, consumer watchdog group Allied Progress released records obtained via FOIA request showing DeVos’ own department found ACICS was still demonstrating significant problems nearly a year after the Secretary’s controversial 2018 decision to restore its federal recognition. The reversal of the Obama administration’s termination of ACICS’ federal recognition reportedly came at the urging of DeVos’ top aide Diane Auer Jones, the former for-profit college lobbyist perhaps best known for her leading role in the Dream Center accreditation scandal and later lying to Congress about it. At the time, Auer Jones cited CHEA’s accreditation as evidence that it was a sensible idea for the Department to recognize them again. DeVos also disregarded warnings from career staff in June 2018 that ACICS was still running afoul of federal requirements.
“Not even ACICS itself thinks it can pass muster anymore, yet they still have the ability to legitimize subpar for-profit diploma mills that don’t deserve access to federal aid,” said Derek Martin, Director of Allied Progress. “Is Secretary DeVos ready to finally admit she was wrong to keep an irresponsible accreditor on life support? DeVos exhibited poor judgement in going along with the recommendations of her aide, a former top lobbyist of a for-profit college corporation. The least DeVos can do is strip ACICS of its federal recognition before any more students are steered into debt in exchange for a useless degree.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
ACICS Withdrew Its Application For Recognition From The Major Private Accreditor Association After An Internal Committee At The Association Recommended Its Application Be Denied.
ACICS Withdrew Its Application For Recognition From The Main Private Accreditor Association, The Council For Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
ACICS “Is No Longer Seeking Recognition From The Main Private Association That Vets Accreditors In The U.S., Weakening Its Legitimacy.” “The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and School (ACICS), a troubled national accreditor that had its federal status revoked under the Obama administration, is no longer seeking recognition from the main private association that vets accreditors in the U.S., weakening its legitimacy in the higher education sector.” [Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, “ACICS no longer seeking recognition from key oversight group,” Education Dive, 01/17/20]
ACICS Made The Decision After One Of CHEA’s Internal Committees Recommended Its Application Be Denied.
The Decision Came After A CHEA “Committee Recommended ACICS’ Recognition With The Association Be Denied.” “The announcement comes after a Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) committee recommended ACICS’ recognition with the association be denied.” [Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, “ACICS no longer seeking recognition from key oversight group,” Education Dive, 01/17/20]
Accreditors Do Not Need CHEA’s Recognition To “Oversee Federal Aid Eligibility” But Several States Require Recognition From Either ED Or CHEA In Order For An Accreditor To Operate.
Accreditors Do Not Need CHEA’s Recognition To “Oversee Federal Aid Eligibility” But CHEA’s Approval Can Impact “Decisions By State Authorizers”…
Accreditors Do Not Need “Recognition By CHEA” To “Oversee Federal Aid Eligibility” But CHEA’s Approval “Can Affect Decisions By State Authorizers.” “Recognition by CHEA isn’t necessary for an accreditor to oversee federal aid eligibility. But approval by the association can affect decisions by state authorizers, specialized accrediting agencies, licensing boards and some institutional authorities in other countries.” [Paul Fain, “For-Profit Accreditor Drops Recognition Bid,” Inside Higher Ed, 01/20/20]
… And Several States “Require Accreditors To Either Have CHEA Or Department Recognition” To Operate.
According To The Center For American Progress’ “Director For Postsecondary Education,” Several “State Laws Require Accreditors To Either Have CHEA Or Department Recognition In Order To Operate.” “Many state laws require accreditors to either have CHEA or department recognition in order to operate, she said. Without CHEA’s backing, ACICS is in a much more precarious position, Flores said.” [Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, “ACICS no longer seeking recognition from key oversight group,” Education Dive, 01/17/20]
Despite CHEA’s Requirements For Recognition Being “Much Less Rigorous” Than ED’s, Diane Auer Jones Cited CHEA’s Previous Recognition Of ACICS As “An Important Indicator” That It Was A Legitimate Accreditor.
Diane Auer Jones “Cited CHEA’s Approval Of ACICS” In “Her 2018 Recommendation” To Return Federal Recognition To ACICS.
Diane Auer Jones “Cited CHEA’s Approval Of ACICS In Recent Years As Part Of Her 2018 Recommendation To Restore The Federal Recognition Of ACICS.” “Diane Auer Jones, a top adviser to DeVos, cited CHEA’s approval of ACICS in recent years as part of her 2018 recommendation to restore the federal recognition of ACICS.” [Michael Stratford, “Accreditor of for-profit colleges loses approval by higher education association,” Politico, 01/17/20]
In Her Recommendation, Jones Noted That “‘CHEA Continues To Recognize ACICS Pending Review’” And That Was “‘An Important Indicator” That ACICS Was Still A “‘Widely Accepted’” Accreditor.
In Her Recommendation, Diane Auer Jones Noted That “‘CHEA Continues To Recognize ACICS Pending Review And Has Not Taken Negative Action Against ACICS’” And That Was “‘An Important Indicator That ACICS Continues To Be Widely Accepted As An Accreditor.’” “‘That CHEA continues to recognize ACICS pending review and has not taken negative action against ACICS despite ACICS’s previous loss of recognition by the Department and accompanying highly public controversies surrounding ACICS’s future, is notable and an important indicator that ACICS continues to be widely accepted as an accreditor,’ she wrote.” [Michael Stratford, “Accreditor of for-profit colleges loses approval by higher education association,” Politico, 01/17/20]
CHEA’s Rules “For Seeking Recognition” Are “Much Less Rigorous Than” ED’s.
CHEA’s Rules “For Seeking Recognition — While Not Completely Public — Are Much Less Rigorous Than The Education Department’s,” According To The Center For American Progress’ Director For Postsecondary Education. “CHEA’s rules and processes for seeking recognition — while not completely public — are much less rigorous than the Education Department’s, said Antoinette Flores, director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress.” [Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, “ACICS no longer seeking recognition from key oversight group,” Education Dive, 01/17/20]
- Antoinette Flores Is “Director For Postsecondary Education At The Center For American Progress.” [Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, “ACICS no longer seeking recognition from key oversight group,” Education Dive, 01/17/20]
After Its Application Withdrawal From CHEA, Revelations Over ACICS “Troubled Finances,” And Inabilities To Monitor Member Institutions, There Is “New Pressure” On ED To Rescind ACICS’ Federal Recognition.
ACICS’s Decision Puts “New Pressure” On ED To “Take Away” Its Federal Recognition, In Light Of Its “Continued Troubled Finances And Failures In Monitoring Its Member Institutions.”
The Move Puts “New Pressure” On ED To “Take Away Its Federal Recognition, In Light Of The Accreditor’s Continued Troubled Finances And Failures In Monitoring Its Member Institutions.” “Observers told Education Dive that ACICS’ move to withdraw puts new pressure on the U.S. Department of Education to once again take away its federal recognition, in light of the accreditor’s continued troubled finances and failures in monitoring its member institutions, problems the department flagged in November.” [Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, “ACICS no longer seeking recognition from key oversight group,” Education Dive, 01/17/20]