ED Terminates Federal Recognition of ACICS

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

The Department of Education (ED) on Friday formally stripped the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) of its federal status as a college accreditor.

ED denied ACICS’ most recent appeal and will require institutions of higher education who remain accredited by ACICS to fulfill additional operating conditions in order to continue their participation in federal student aid programs.

According to ED, these conditions will include additional monitoring, transparency, oversight, and accountability measures that ACICS-accredited institutions will be required to agree to in order to continue to offer federal student aid.

“We are disappointed by the decision rendered by Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten to terminate ACICS’s recognition status. We believe it is deeply flawed and that ACICS has been in substantial compliance with any objective, consistent, and reasonable interpretation of the recognition criteria,” the accreditation agency said in a statement. “We are evaluating all of our options and how best to serve our institutions, including any decision to appeal the Deputy Secretary’s decision in federal district court.”

Federal Student Aid (FSA) will contact schools that are impacted by this decision and send provisional program participation agreements (PPAs) that will need to be agreed to within 10 calendar days in order to retain access to federal student aid programs.

According to ED, ACICS currently accredits 27 schools that enroll a combined 3,800 students.

In reaching this decision ED underscored that ACICS had multiple opportunities to achieve full compliance.

Recognition by the Department must be reserved for agencies that adhere to high standards, just as accreditation by agencies must be reserved for institutions and programs that adhere to high standards,” Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten wrote. “Its continuing failure to reach full compliance with this criterion alone is a sufficient basis to terminate ACICS’ recognition.”


Publication Date: 8/22/2022

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