Accreditors Seek to Challenge Consumer Bureau's Power

January 19, 2016

A group of national accreditors is seeking to weigh in on the dispute between the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools over whether that controversial accrediting organization has to hand over records to the consumer bureau.

Five national accrediting agencies and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which advocates for accreditation on behalf of colleges and universities, last week asked the federal judge in the case for permission to file a friend of the court brief.

The brief argues that the CFPB does not have the power to compel records from ACICS, which accredited campuses of the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, and that any CFPB inquiry into an accreditor threatens the integrity of the accreditation process.

“CFPB’s efforts to investigate ACICS will not only impact that body, but will greatly impact all accrediting bodies in the field,” the accreditors and CHEA write. “CFPB’s actions exceeded its own jurisdiction, and intrude upon the jurisdiction of the Department of Education.”

The CFPB in August issued a formal demand to ACICS as part of an inquiry by the consumer bureau that relates to “unlawful acts and practices in connection with accrediting for-profit colleges.” ACICS has said the CFPB lacks jurisdiction to make such a demand, and the case is now pending before a federal judge.

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