Washington, D.C. — A senior U.S. Department of Education (ED) official, Diane Auer Jones, recommended giving the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) an additional year to come into compliance after finding the agency to still be out of compliance with requirements under federal law. In 2016, the Department of Education under the Obama administration, terminated ACICS, the nation’s largest college watchdog, after finding the agency was lax in its oversight and was so severely out of compliance that it would be unable to remedy itself within 12 months as required under law.
The 2016 decision came on the heels of several reports from the Center for American Progress that found that over the course of three years, a majority of federal financial aid dollars received by ACICS-approved schools went to institutions that were under state or federal investigation. These schools included the now defunct Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech. Diane Auer Jones, the deciding official, is a former for-profit college lobbyist and worked for a company that once owned colleges accredited by ACICS.
Antoinette Flores, associate director for Postsecondary Education at CAP, released the following statement in response:
Today’s recommendation to fully restore ACICS’ recognition is unconscionable. It ignores the abundant evidence showing that ACICS has been—and continues to be—an unfit steward of taxpayer dollars and reliable authority on college quality. This move flies in the face of previous decisions and ignores the expertise of Education Department career staff. Most importantly, it dismisses the tens of thousands of students who have experienced real harm from enrolling in ACICS-accredited schools. It’s not in the least surprising coming from a department that has turned a blind eye to abuse and neglected students to prop up corporate interests.
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