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A U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations on Thursday approved a funding bill that includes an 18-month extension for colleges that are overseen by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to find a new accreditor.

The Obama administration terminated ACICS, a controversial national accrediting agency that oversees many for-profit institutions. While ACICS's fate remains unclear, many of the 260 or so colleges it oversees must find a new accreditor or risk losing access to federal financial aid. Virtually all of those institutions are doing just that, the Center for American Progress said in June, citing information the group received via a public records request.

Under federal rules, colleges have 18 months to find a new accreditor when the department withdraws its recognition for an accrediting agency. Experts have speculated that some ACICS colleges will not be able to meet that deadline and would lose aid eligibility. However, the Republican-led Senate voted to double that time period -- by adding an additional 18 months -- in the budget bill the appropriations committee passed last week. However, the extra grace period does not apply if a college seeks to remain overseen by ACICS.