Durbin: For-Profit College Accreditor Should Lose Federal Recognition

Senator is working on legislation to overhaul college accreditation process

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who is working with his colleagues in the Senate on legislation to reform the college accreditation process, commended the Department of Education’s staff recommendation to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity to end federal recognition of one of the nation's largest accreditor of for-profit colleges – the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).  The Center for American Progress found that more than half of the $5.7 billion in federal student aid awarded to ACICS-approved schools in the past three years went to institutions facing some sort of state or federal investigation including ITT Tech, Westwood, and the former Corinthian Colleges.
“ACICS has shown time and again that it is not a reliable authority on educational quality,” said Durbin.  “It is not a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars, capable of being a gatekeeper of America’s precious investments in the education of the next generation.  I commend the Department of Education for today recommending a withdrawal of ACICS’ federal approval.  I hope this is the beginning of the end for this organization that has been complicit in the defrauding of students and the fleecing of taxpayers by major for-profit education companies for too long.”
In April, thirteen State Attorneys General, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, wrote to the Department of Education urging the withdrawal of federal approval for ACICS calling ACICS’s accreditation failures both “systemic and extreme”.  In their letter, the Attorneys General cited a recent analysis by ProPublica that found that “only 35% of students enrolled at ACICS accredited schools graduate from their programs, ‘the lowest rate for any accreditor.’ Of students who actually did graduate, more than one in five defaulted on their student loans within the first three years after graduation. A full 60% had not yet paid down a single dollar of the principal balance on their loans.”
Durbin has long advocated for reform of the college accreditation system. In a March 2011 letter to 60 college and university accreditors around the country, Durbin asked for an explanation of the accreditation standards to better understand the role they play in holding colleges and universities to high academic standards.