Department of Education Takes Action Which Can Impact Many For-Profit Schools

The Department of Education has finally announced an updated policy that will impact all of the 250 for-profit schools who relied on “accreditation” from the now discredited Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

These institutions relied on the value of achieving this accreditation to be eligible for access to offer federal student loans. At one time earning that accreditation meant something, but no more. So the new standards for schools may shake some out of the federal student loan program and push more students into horrible private student loans.

This move by the Department of Education may even go so far as to implode ACICS because without the attractive value to schools to become approved to dole out federal students loans, what’s the point?

Since the announcement makes specific reference to teach-out plans it makes me think the government expects this new policy position and announcement will lead to school closures.

A list of the institutions who are accredited by ACICS as of the date of this article will be found at the bottom of the article.

It is important to note that if your current school is listed, it does not mean they are going to close. However, you should keep in close communications with the school to monitor any chance in their status created by this change by the Department of Education.

Here is the official announcement from the Department of Education.

Beginning today, the U.S. Department of Education will inform colleges accredited by the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) of additional operating conditions required for continued participation in the federal student aid programs. These new provisions will apply to ACICS-accredited institutions and follow U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.’s final decision to withdraw federal recognition of the accrediting agency.

Although ACICS is no longer a federally recognized accrediting agency, the Department may provisionally certify ACICS-accredited institutions for continued participation in the federal student aid programs for up to 18 months from the date of the Secretary’s final decision. This 18-month provisional certification period allows institutions to seek accreditation from another federally recognized accrediting agency. During this period of provisional certification, the Department will require the ACICS-accredited institutions to comply with additional conditions that are designed to protect students and safeguard taxpayer dollars. These conditions include additional monitoring, transparency, oversight and accountability measures.

Only ACICS-accredited institutions that agree to these conditions may continue to offer Federal Loans and Pell Grants.

The Department’s Federal Student Aid office will promptly begin sending provisional program participation agreements (PPAs) to the affected institutions, which will have 10 days to respond affirmatively to the new agreements or will lose eligibility for federal student aid programs.

The additional PPA conditions establish triggers tied directly to milestones in the accreditation process to ensure that institutions not on track to receive accreditation from a federally-recognized accrediting agency within 18 months are subject to progressively stronger student and taxpayer protections. During the term of their provisional PPAs, institutions must also abide by requirements previously enforced by ACICS.

Within 30 days, all ACICS-accredited institutions will be required to submit teach-out plans for helping students complete their academic programs elsewhere if necessary, and submit information about recent and ongoing investigations to ensure the Department is aware of key risks in this new environment of reduced oversight.

Additional conditions triggered by institutions missing milestones on the path to obtaining accreditation from a federally recognized accreditor include:

  • Submitting teach-out agreements to ensure a path to completion for students in the event of closure;
  • Providing enhanced disclosures to students regarding potential loss of federal student aid eligibility;
  • Limiting enrollment of new students;
  • Submitting monthly student rosters and a record retention plan; and
  • Posting a letter of credit to protect against taxpayer losses associated with school closure.

“Protecting and supporting students throughout their education is the Department’s chief priority. When we find that an accrediting agency is not effectively protecting students, and is putting taxpayer funding at risk, we will use every tool we have to hold it accountable–just as Congress requires and families expect,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “In this case, that means that we more closely monitor their schools in the absence of a reliable accreditor. During this transition, we will do everything we can to help students continue on the path to complete their programs.”

ACICS No Longer Recognized as Federal Aid “Gatekeeper”

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. informed ACICS of his decision regarding its appeal of the Senior Department Official’s Sept. 22 decision to end federal recognition of the accrediting agency. His determination is consistent with the Department’s accreditation staff recommendation and the recommendation of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), a bi-partisan, independent advisory board appointed by Congress. Secretary King’s decision is the Department’s final action. Effective immediately, ACICS is no longer a federally recognized accrediting agency, and can no longer serve as a “gatekeeper” of institutional eligibility for federal student aid programs.

In his decision, Secretary King noted, “I find ACICS to be out of compliance with numerous agency criteria. Because of the nature and scope of ACICS’s pervasive noncompliance, I further conclude that ACICS is not capable of coming into compliance within 12 months or less, even if I renewed its recognition for an additional 12 months.” He added, “The interests of students are of foremost concern to me and this Department, but students’ interests are best served by proper application of the recognition criteria. This is also required by law.”

As the accreditation staff analysis of ACICS noted, the Department identified significant areas of concern, including insufficient institutional monitoring, failure to meet its Title IV responsibilities, lax enforcement of the agency’s existing accrediting standards, particularly the student achievement standard, and the rigor of the agency’s accreditation and pre-accreditation standards. In accordance with agency recognition renewal procedures, this analysis was shared with NACIQI and informed its recommendation to withdraw federal recognition of ACICS.

ACICS accredits approximately 250 institutions participating in federal student aid programs according to information from the College Scorecard and the Department’s institutional database. These institutions enroll roughly 300,000 undergraduate students who receive federal aid.

Strengthening the Accreditation System

As part of an ongoing commitment to strengthen the transparency and rigor of accreditation for colleges and universities, the Department has taken a series of steps to promote outcomes-driven accountability, such as:

  • Streamlining the process for accreditors to share information about institutional statuses. Institutional accreditors are now required to submit decision letters when they place Title IV eligible institutions on probation. The Department will soon begin to post online all publicly releasable portions of such letters.
  • Publishing each accreditor’s standards for evaluating student outcomes. The Department has published each federally recognized agency’s stated student achievement measures, including any specific thresholds. Accreditors are required by statute to set standards for student achievement for schools to maintain their accreditation status. Yet there are significant differences in the form, specificity, and performance levels among accreditors. Under current law, the Department is barred from establishing any criteria for agency standards of student achievement. This allows some accreditors to set low or difficult-to-measure thresholds to maintain accreditation status, and others to rely on reviews of thresholds established by the institutions they accredit. Shining a spotlight on current standards is an initial step toward strengthening them. 
  • Publishing key student and institutional metrics for postsecondary institutions arranged by accreditors. In June, the Department published “accreditor dashboards” based largely on data largely from the College Scorecard, designed to help policymakers, experts, and the public better understand the student outcomes of institutions that are approved by particular accrediting agencies. These dashboards illustrate the performance of all colleges and universities in each accreditor’s institutional portfolio relevant to those measures.
  • Promoting greater emphasis on outcomes within current accreditor review processes. Staff in the Office of Postsecondary Education now have access to critical outcomes data, state and federal litigation reports, and other information about each agency’s schools prior to conducting their reviews. This information helps Department staff determine which questions to ask accreditors in preparation for reviews, and helps them evaluate accreditor effectiveness, especially with respect to struggling institutions. Through the accreditor dashboards, the Department supplied outcomes information to NACIQI in advance of its June 2016 meeting to support its training and policy development activities, to help it frame a policy agenda regarding the agency recognition process, and for its own evaluation of accreditor standards and processes. In addition, the Department, within the scope of its current authority, has encouraged accreditors, to apply outcomes-directed measures in accreditation and monitoring of institutions that have weak outcomes.

Shared Responsibility in Ensuring Institutional Accountability

Despite the Department’s efforts to strengthen the accreditation system, more work remains. Congress, states, and accreditors must also join in these efforts.

States play an important role in overseeing colleges and universities. And they must take seriously their long-standing role in consumer protection through a robust state authorization and oversight process, as well as ensure active compliance and monitoring of institutions doing business in their states. There is significant opportunity for state attorneys general and state higher education authorizing and licensure bodies to strengthen their coordination and collaboration with one another within and across states in an effort to identify problems, protect students, and hold schools accountable. The Department stands ready to support those efforts.

All accreditors must raise the bar for quality, promote transparency, and renew their focus on student outcomes–not just inputs. And all accreditors must take seriously their responsibility to monitor and take swift action against schools that attempt to defraud their students.

Congress must do more to protect students from unscrupulous institutions that deceive students into taking on debt they will never be able to repay and stick taxpayers with the bill. We must strengthen, not weaken, accountability in higher education. In November 2015, the Department issued a set of legislative recommendations for strengthening accreditation, which include strengthening outcomes-driven and focused review and recognition of accreditors; requiring robust teach-out plans and reserve funds for high-risk institutions; standardizing terminology and reporting of accreditation actions and key outcomes; and increasing transparency on an expanded set of accreditation material and actions. – Source

Listing of ACICS Accredited Institutions as Listed by The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

Academy College
Academy of Art University
Accutech Career Institute
Allied Medical and Technical Institute
Ambria College of Nursing
American Commercial College
American Commercial College – Abilene
American Commercial College of Texas
American Educational College – Bayamon
American Institute
American Institute of Medical Sciences and Education
American National University
American National University – Salem
American School of Business
American University of Health Sciences
Anamarc College – Santa Teresa
Angley College
Angley College – Orlando
Anthem College – Bryman School
Anthem College – Phoenix
Argosy University
Art Institute of Ohio – Cincinnati
ASA College
Ascension College
Atlantic University College
Austin Business College
Bay Area College of Nursing
Bay Area Medical Academy
BCRI Career Training
Beal College
Beckfield College
Bergin University of Canine Studies
Berks Technical Institute
Best Care College
Bethesda College of Health Sciences
Beverly Hills Design Institute
BIR Training Center
Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing
Bradford School
Branford Hall Career Institute – Branford Campus
Branson Technical College
Braxton School
Braxton School of Business, The
Brightwood Career Institute
Brightwood Career Institute – Broomall
Brightwood Career Institute – Harrisburg
Brightwood Career Institute – ICM Campus
Brightwood College
Brightwood College – Dallas
Brightwood College – Baltimore
Brightwood College – Beltsville
Brightwood College – El Paso
Brightwood College – Hammond
Brightwood College – Las Vegas
Brightwood College – Modesto Campus
Brightwood College – Nashville
Brightwood College – North Hollywood
Brightwood College – Sacramento
Brightwood College – San Antonio
Brightwood College – San Diego
Brightwood College – Towson
Brightwood College – Vista
Bristol University
Broadview University
Broadview University – Layton
Broadview University – Orem
Brookline College – Phoenix
Brooklyn Institute of Business Technology
Brooks Institute
Brookside Business and Technical Institute
Brookstone College of Business – Charlotte
Brown College Brooklyn Center Campus
Brown Mackie College – Atlanta
Brown Mackie College – Dallas
Brown Mackie College – Denver
Brown Mackie College – Fort Worth
Brown Mackie College – Salina
Bryan University
Bryan University at Springfield
Bryman College
Business Skills Institute – El Paso
Business Skills Institute-Las Cruces
Butler Business School Inc
California Institute of Advanced Management
California Miramar University
California University of Management and Sciences
California University of Management and Sciences Virginia
Cambria-Rowe Business College
Cambridge Junior College – Yuba City
Camelot College
Career Colleges of Chicago
Career Education Institute-Henderson
Career Education Institute-Norcross
Career Institute of Health and Technology
Career Point College
Career Point College – Tulsa
Carrington College
Carrington College – Phoenix
Carrington College- Portland
Cascade Business College
Center for Advanced Legal Studies
Charter College
Charter College – Lancaster
Cheryl Fells School of Business
City College – Altamonte Springs
City College – Fort Lauderdale
Coachella Valley Beauty College, Inc.
Colegio Tecnologico y Comercial de Puerto Rico
Coleman University
College of Business and Technology
College of Court Reporting Inc
Colorado Heights University
Columbia Central University
Columbia College
Community Care College
Computer Labs
Computer Systems Institute – Gurnee
Connecticut Training Centers Inc
Consolidated School of Business
Cope Institute
Court Reporting Institute
Court Reporting Institute – Seattle
Court Reporting Institute of St. Louis
CRI Career Training
Daymar College – Clarksville
Daymar College – New Boston
Daymar College – Owensboro
Daymar College – Paducah
Delaware School of Hotel Management
Delta School of Business and Technology
Design Institute of San Diego
Detroit Business Institute – Downriver
Dewey University – Hato Rey Campus
Digital Media Arts College
Dorsey School of Business
Douglas Education Center
Dover Business College – Clifton
Drake College of Business
DuBois Business College
Duluth Business University
Eagle Gate College
Eastwick College
EDIC College
EDP School of Computer Programming
EDP University of Puerto Rico
Education and Technology Institute
Edutek College
Electronic Data Processing College of Puerto Rico Inc
Elmira Business Institute
Emerging Technologies Institute
Empire College
EMSTA College
Erie Business Center
Everest College – Chesapeake
Everest College – Colorado Springs
Everest College – Everett
Everest College – Henderson
Everest College – Portland
Everest College – San Bernardino
Everest College – Springfield
Everest College – Thornton
Everest College – West Valley
Everest College – Woodbridge
Everest Institute – Pittsburgh
Everest Institute – Rochester
Everest University – Tampa
Everest University Online – Tampa
Express Training Services
Fashion Careers College
FastTrain College – Jacksonville
FastTrain College – Miami
FastTrain College – Plantation
FastTrain College – Tampa
Felbry College – School of Nursing
Florida Career College – Miami
Florida Technical College
Forrest College
Fortis College – Norfolk
Fortis College – Orange Park
Fortis College – Tampa
Fortis Institute – Erie
Fox College Inc
Gadsden Business College
Gallipolis Career College
GECAC Training Institute
Gem City College
Gibbs College
Gibbs College – Norwalk
Global Business Institute – Far Rockaway
Global Health College
Globe University
Golden State College of Court Reporting and Captioning
Golf Academy of America
Goodwin College
Groove U
Guardian College
Gwinnett College
Harrington College of Design
Harris School of Business – Cherry Hill
Harrison College – Indianapolis
Hawaii Business College
Healthcare Institute of Jackson
Herguan University
Hickey College
Hondros College of Business
Hondros College of Nursing
Hope College of Arts & Sciences
Huertas College
Humacao Community College
Hunter Business School
IBMC College – Fort Collins
IGlobal University
Instituto de Banca y Comercio – Aguadilla
Instituto de Banca y Comercio – Hato Rey
Instituto de Banca y Comercio – San Juan
Inter-American Defense College
International Academy of Design and Technology
International Academy of Design and Technology – Pittsburgh
International Academy of Design and Technology – Schaumburg
International Business College – El Paso
International Business College – Fort Wayne
International Business College – Indianapolis
International Business College – Indianapolis
International Business College – Lubbock
International Business School – Denton
International Business School–MCKINNEY
International Business School–MIDLAND
International Career Institute
International College of Health Sciences
International Institute of the Americas
International Junior College
International Junior College – Humacao
International Junior College Ponce College of Tech
International Technological University
ITT Technical Institute
Jersey College
Jones College – Jacksonville
Jones College – Miami
Jose Maria Vargas University
Kaplan Career Institute – Brooklyn
Kaplan College – Panorama City
Kaplan University
Katharine Gibbs School
Katharine Gibbs School – New York City
Key College
King’s College
Kingston University
LA College International
Lamson College
Lansdale School of Business
Laurel Business Institute
Laurel Technical Institute – Sharon
Laurus College
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – Austin
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – Hollywood
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – Pasadena
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – Portland
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts – Scottsdale
Learnet Academy, Inc.
Lebanon College
Lebanon College
Lehigh Valley College
Levin School of Health Care
Life Line Med Training
Lighthouse College
Lincoln College of Technology
Lincoln Technical Institute
Lincoln University
Living Arts College@School of Communication Arts
Long Island Business Institute – Flushing
Long Technical College – East Valley
Madison Media Institute
Management Resources College
Manhattan Institute of Management
Manhattan School of Computer Technology
Maric College – Anaheim
Mattia College
MBTI Business Training Institute
McCann School of Business and Technology
MDT College of Health Sciences, Inc.
Mech-Tech College dba Ramirez College of Business and Technology
Med Tech College
Merit University
Metro Business College of Cape Girardeau
Miami-Jacobs Career College
Michigan Jewish Institute
Mildred Elley
Millennia Atlantic University
Miller-Motte Technical College
Minneapolis Business College
Minneapolis Media Institute
Minnesota School of Business
Missouri College
MJS College School of Nursing and Business
Morrison University
Mountain State College
National Center for Credibility Assessment
National College
National College of Business and Tech
National Latino Education Institute
National University College
Neumont University
New York Institute of English and Business
New York Paralegal School
Newbridge College
Newport Business Institute
NewSchool of Architecture and Design
Niels Brock University San Diego
Nobel University
North American University
Northwest Suburban College
Northwestern Polytechnic University
Ohio Business College
Ohio Medical Career College
Ohio Valley College of Technology
Olean Business Institute
Omega Institute
Pace Institute
Pacific Institute of Technology
Pacific States University
Peloton College
Penn Commercial Business/Technical School
Personal Career Certification Training Institute (PCCTI)
Pinchot University
Pinnacle Career Institute
Pioneer Pacific College
Pittsburgh Career Institute
PPG Technical College
Premiere Career College
Premiere International College
Presidio Graduate School
Prince Institute
Process Work Institute
Professional Business College
Professional Chef’s Institute of the South
Professional Golfers Career College
Provo College
Radians College
Radiological Technologies University VT
Ramirez College of Business & Technology
Rasmussen College
Redstone College
Remington College
Ridley-Lowell Business and Technical Institute
Rockford Career College
SAE Institute
Sage College
Salter College
San Diego Global Knowledge University
San Ignacio University
Sanford-Brown College
Sanford-Brown Institute
Santa Barbara Business College
Savannah River College
Sawyer School
SBI Campus – An Affiliate of Sanford-Brown
Schiller International University
Schuylkill Institute of Business Technology
Seattle Film Institute
Sentara College of Health Sciences
Shepherd University
Sierra Valley College of Court Reporting
Silicon Valley University
Solex College
South Coast College
South College
South Hills School of Business and Technology
Southern California Health Institute
Southern States University
Southern Technical College
Spanish-American Institute
Sparks College
Spencerian College
Stautzenberger College
StenoTech Career Institute
Stenotype Institute of Jacksonville Inc
Stevens Institute of Business & Arts
Stone Academy
Stratford University
Sullivan College of Technology and Design
Sumner College
Suncoast College of Health
Taylor Business Institute
Texas County Technical College
Texas Health and Science University
Texas School of Business
The American College of Commerce and Technology
The Art Institute
The Art Institute of Colorado
The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale Inc
The Art Institute of New York City
The Art Institute of Philadelphia
The Art Institute of Phoenix
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
The Art Institute of York
The Art Institutes International Minnesota
The College of Office Technology
The Recording Conservatory of Austin
The School of Court Reporting
Thompson Institute
Training Solutions Inc
Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy
Trinity College of Puerto Rico
Trumbull Business College
Tucson College
Tysons Institute
UAC School of Global Management
Ultimate Medical Academy
Unilatina International College
Universal Technology College of Puerto Rico
Universal Vocational Institute
University of Advancing Technology
University of Antelope Valley
University of North America
University of Northern Virginia
University of Southernmost Florida
University of the Potomac
Valley College
Vet Tech Institute of Houston
Victory Trade School
Virginia College
Virginia College School of Construction
Virginia College Technical
Virginia International University
Virginia University of Oriental Medicine
West Coast University
West Tennessee Business College
West Virginia Business College
West Virginia Junior College
Westwood College
Westwood College – Denver North
Westwood College – Dupage
Westwood College – Long Beach
Westwood College – Los Angeles
Westwood College – O’Hare Airport
Wright Career College
Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential
Yorktowne Business Institute – Source

Steve Rhode
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This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.