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State AGs Ask Feds to Dump For-Profit College Accreditor

April 11, 2016

Twelve state attorneys general on Friday called on the U.S. Department of Education to deny federal recognition of one of the largest accreditors of for-profit colleges, including the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges.

The accrediting organization, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, is up for review by the Education Department this June.

The attorneys general said in a letter Friday that the department should not continue to recognize ACICS as an accreditor whose stamp of approval carries weight for the purposes of receiving federal student aid money. Such a move would jeopardize the federal funding of the hundreds of for-profit colleges that are accredited by ACICS.

The letter cites “system and extreme” failures in the accreditor’s evaluation of for-profit colleges, including Corinthian Colleges, Westwood College, the Education Management Company’s Art Institutes and Brown Mackie College, ITT Tech, and Career Education Corporation’s Sanford Brown campuses.

"Even in the crowded field of accrediting failures, ACICS deserves special opprobrium," says the letter, which was signed by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Washington. The executive director of Hawaii’s office of consumer protection also signed it.

The Education Department's National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity will take up ACICS's federal recognition at its twice-annual meeting this June.

Some Senate Democrats and the Obama administration have previously criticized ACICS's approval of Corinthian Colleges up until it collapsed last year.

ACICS said in a statement Friday that it had not yet received the comments made by the attorneys general.

"The council looks forward to reviewing all public comments and defending its merits before NACIQI in June," the statement said.

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Michael Stratford

Michael Stratford, Reporter, covers federal policy for Inside Higher Ed. He joined the publication in August 2013 after a stint covering the Arkansas state legislature for The Associated Press. He previously worked and interned at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and The Chronicle of Higher Education. At The Chronicle, he wrote about federal policy and covered higher education issues in the 2012 elections. Michael grew up in Belmont, Mass. and graduated from Cornell University, where he was managing editor of The Cornell Daily Sun.

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