The largest accrediting agency of for-profit educational institutions—some of which, like ITT and Corinthian Colleges have shut down, displacing thousands of students—now faces its own undoing by a vengeful administration. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools had its federal recognition officially revoked on December 12, after a five-month tug-of-war with the Department of Education.
Federal de-recognition, made official when Education Secretary John King denied ACICS’s appeal last Monday, means these schools will become ineligible for federal funding under Title IV of the High Education Act. With ACICS derecognized, hundreds of for-profits formerly accredited by the agency have until Christmas Eve to agree to the conditions of an eighteen-month provisional “accreditation” under the Department’s oversight.
And there’s little the Trump administration will be able to do to repair the brunt of the damage—even if ACICS wins its injunction, scheduled for February, against the department’s de-recognition decision. And even if incoming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s department reopens the lengthy process of re-recognizing ACICS on their very first work day, schools will have already agreed to notify their combined 320,000 students of their unaccredited status—a condition of the department’s interim accreditation. And at the state level, many schools will have already lost licensing authority and funding for veterans benefits as a result of their lost accreditation.