Washington, D.C. — News broke today of the resignation of Albert Gray, executive director of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, or ACICS. In September 2015, the Center for American Progress released a report that revealed troublingly high student loan default rates among colleges accredited by national accreditors, including ACICS—the largest accreditor for the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges. Ben Miller, the author of that report and the Senior Director of Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
The resignation of Albert Gray is a long-overdue admission by ACICS that it has failed to properly safeguard taxpayer dollars by protecting students from poor-performing institutions of higher education. The problems at ACICS, however, cannot be fixed by just one resignation. The failure of Corinthian Colleges—plus lawsuits and investigations at other institutions approved by ACICS—reflects a dereliction of duty by the entire board of directors to set and enforce rigorous standards, as well as exercise good judgment about which institutions to allow into the federal financial aid programs. ACICS has had years to improve and this move should in no way preclude the agency from losing its recognition when it comes before the U.S. Department of Education’s accreditation committee in June.
In its report on accreditation, CAP’s review of U.S. Department of Education data found that one out of every five borrowers at an ACICS-accredited college defaults on his or her loans within three years of entering repayment, a mark that is 50 percent higher than the national average. That figure—known as the three-year cohort default rate, or CDR—is particularly troubling because students at ACICS-accredited colleges take out student loans at higher rates and in greater amounts than those at colleges accredited by other agencies. Click here to read the report.
Furthermore, a public comment filed to the Department of Education by CAP on April 8 found that 17 institutions or companies accredited wholly or in part by ACICS had been subject to investigations or settlements without admission of wrongdoing by state and federal actors. Of these, nine were recognized by ACICS as “honor roll institutions” that exemplify the accreditation process.
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