The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday backed a federal panel's recommendation to terminate recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, a national accreditor that oversees many for-profit colleges. If enacted, the decision would mean that ACICS would no longer be a gatekeeper to federal aid for 245 member colleges, which collectively enroll 600,000 students. Last year the council oversaw the disbursement of $4.76 billion in federal financial aid.
The federal panel in June voted to terminate the accreditor, bolstered by a department report that found ACICS was too lax and inconsistent in its oversight. The collapsed Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute chains were ACICS members, among other controversial and failed for-profits.
The accreditor said it plans to appeal the decision. After the outcome of an appeal -- and a possible legal challenge -- is determined, ACICS's member colleges would have 18 months to find a new accreditor. Those that fail to do so would lose access to federal financial aid.
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