The recommendation that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools -- ACICS -- be stripped of its accrediting authority could prove disastrous for more than 200 colleges currently selling programs to more than 800,000 students nationwide.
Accreditation is one of the lynchpin's of any college's ability to function and authority to tap into federal student loan programs. For decades, hundreds of the nation's for-profit colleges have turned to ACICS to obtain their stamp of accreditation approval.
ACICS, in turn, has enjoyed the authority to grant accreditation through an approval process with the U.S. Department of Education. But a federal panel that helps determine which accrediting bodies can provide accreditation is now a recommending that ACICS be eliminated from the Department of Education's approved list.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity voted 10-3 last month to shut down ACICS's accrediting authority. The U.S. Department of Education now has until September 2016 to determine the accreditor's fate.
If ACICS loses its authority to accredit for-profit colleges, each college and trade school currently accredited by ACICS will have 18 months to find a new accreditor.
ACICS accredited Corinthian Colleges, a massive for-profit education company that collapsed in 2015 amidst state and federal scrutiny of the school's marketing and placement practices.