Controversial Accrediting Body Dangerously Close to Losing Federal Recognition

The Education Department has recommended withdrawing recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, or ACICS, as officials say the largest for-profit college accrediting agency has exhibited an “unprecedented level of noncompliance” in the past and present.  The potential termination comes on the heels of a damning Education Department report noting that ACICS is not meeting federal standards.

Education Department findings charge that the accrediting body consists of employees who simply lack qualifications, “the agency failed to demonstrate that it has competent and knowledgeable individuals, qualified by education and experience in their own right and trained by the agency on their responsibilities, as appropriate for their roles, regarding the agency’s standards, policies, and procedures.” This is not the first time Higher Ed policy experts have criticized the accrediting body.

Under Education Secretary Betsy Devos, ACICS (a historically for-profit accreditor), fought for its accreditation reinstatement after the Obama administration eliminated its recognition in 2016­ – citing pervasive compliance problems with schools who attained accreditation under the council. ACICS accredited and shuttered schools such as ITT Tech, The Corinthian Colleges, and other for-profit institutions “routinely failed to adequately police schools under its oversight,” according the Education Department. However, in March of 2018 a federal court found that ACICS’s 36,000 pages petitioning for recognition had not been entirely examined by Education Department officials in leu of revoking ACICS’s status. Secretary Devos then signed an official order retaining the status of ACICS as a federally recognized accrediting agency, citing a “flawed” decision-making process.

Four years later, US Department of Education officials have noted in a new report, ACICS is still not able to comply with federal requirements and has failed at protecting students and taxpayers. According to Kyle Southern, policy and advocacy director for higher education and workforce at Young Invincible:

Yesterday’s recommendation from the staff at the Education Department only affirms what too many people have known for too long: ACICS has failed in its responsibility to ensure its member institutions provide anything close to the quality of education new should expect from any college or university…we welcome this step in the process toward revoking ACICS as an accreditor and putting some of the worst actors in the field of higher education on notice. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) should take this recommendation seriously, and the Department should ultimately fulfill its obligation to maintain the integrity of accreditation and access to federal funds.”

On February 24th, in an 11-to-1 vote, NACICQI voted in recommendation of discrediting ACICS. The Education Department is required to make its final decision within the next 90 days, after which ACICS can appeal the result to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

What does this mean for schools accredited by ACICS?

There are 55 ACICS accredited schools in the 2021 HigherEd Direct Database.  26 of those institutions have additional accreditations and will most likely not be impacted if ACICS loses federal recognition. Of the 29 that are alone accredited with ACICS, three are actively seeking alternative accreditors for recognition at this time. A list of 26 schools with sole ACICS accreditation can be found here.

Stay up to date with the ongoing ACICS recognition as well as all other school accreditations with HigherEd Direct, our online searchable database. We are the only single source reference tool for individual accreditations, from all Department of Education and CHEA recognized accrediting organizations, in the United States.

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higher education data

2019 Higher Education Data Set Released

Higher Education Publications, Inc. announces the launch of its completed 2019 higher education data set. This year’s update will mark 36 years that HEP Inc. has been the leader collecting, verifying and presenting the highest quality higher education information in the form of online and print directories.

Why use Higher Education Publications, Inc. ?

We go straight to the source! With nearly a 100% response rate from accredited U.S. colleges and universities, the new 2019 higher education data is:

  • Directly reported from institutions themselves with no web scraping or 3rd party involvement/generation.
  • Updated constantly and consistently by contacts who we’ve established a consistent rapport with at said institutions over the past 36 years.
  • Checked rigorously by our editors to ensure quality and accuracy.

We concentrate on higher education only, making our data accurate, clean and more effective while maximizing value. Uses for our higher education data include:

  • Academic and institutional research projects
  • Accreditation verification for schools and businesses
  • Academic program and conference promotion.
  • Marketing

We keep up with the higher education industry’s administrator volatility – see article. Changes in just one year include:

  • 39.8% or over 36,645 total changes in higher education administrators from last year.
  • Adding 6,106 new administrator’s and removing 7,145 administrators contact info.
  • 21,813 total accreditations tracked with 872 removed and 827 added.

Our data is fully customizable allowing you to execute campaigns based on the ability to designate enrollment size, state, private vs. public etc. Check out all the changes to the higher education administrator database today with a free two week trial of HigherEd Direct, our online administrator search directory.

Order the brand new 2019 Edition of the Higher Education Directory at a discounted price today!

The brand-new 2019 edition of the Higher Education Directory will be shipping in a few months. Now is the best time to order and take advantage of our pre-publication discount price of $75.


The new edition features over 30,000 updates to last years data—making it the most accurate, all-in-one listing of college administrators in higher education.


For the discounted price—before Oct. 31st, order online here or call (888) 349-7715.


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College Administrator

Trump Administration Proposes Merging U.S. Department of Education and Labor

The Trump Administration is proposing a merger of Education Department and Department of Labor. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night (6/20) that the proposed merger comes “after a monthlong review of cabinet agencies with an eye toward shrinking the federal government.” The change to cabinet level departments would require approval from congress, which is not likely in during an election year.

The new plan echoes Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s previous calling for a “major shift” in higher education. This past November DeVos held council where she concentrated on the importance of local businesses and companies working with community colleges and local schools, arguing for changes in curriculums to better reflect the needs of businesses and “real world” jobs. At the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council held in November, Secretary DeVos said, “We need to expand our thinking on what apprenticeships actually look like…we need to start treating students as individuals, not boxing them in.”

Additionally, The Department of Labor and the American Association of Community Colleges recently set up a task force to discuss the future expansion of apprenticeship programs within higher education. The Department of Labor’s Ondray Harris said, “Apprenticeships are a way to close that skills gap—to earn and learn. I think it’s a natural fit for community colleges.” In order to facilitate the expansion of apprenticeship programs, the DOL has set up a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the AACC to work closer with community colleges and grow apprenticeship programs. Regarding the upcoming Memorandum, the director of the DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship John Ladd said “It’s the absolute next step in the evolution of this partnership.”

According to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, “Since the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the department is working closer than ever with the Department of Education to align workforce education programs, plans and performance requirements.” An official announcement is expected today from the White House.


*** Stay up-to-date with all the administrative changes in higher ed through our online database-HigherEd Direct– Free Trial Here!!

Earth Day 2018

In celebration of Earth Day, Higher Education Publications, Inc. is offering a 15% discount on all purchases of HigherEd Direct for the week of April 22nd-April 28th. Simply type the word: Earth in our coupon code section. Click here to take advantage!

Net Neutrality Reversal Costly for Higher Ed

On December 14th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on its proposition to repeal current net neutrality rules in place. The basic principle of net neutrality prevents internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating (slowing/blocking) against internet access, websites, or applications based on content or services. On college and university campuses, the impending proposal has many concerned about its relation to educational access and increased tuition costs.

Colleges campuses are currently home to massive research and online programs that are essential to an institution’s academic and financial identity. According to a 2017 study performed by the Babson Survey Research Group, from 2012 to 2015 the number of students taking online courses grew by 11 percent. Developments in distance education have been made possible by relatively equal access to the internet. In March and July, higher education and library organizations representing hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide sent essays and letters to the FCC chairman Ajit Pai, urging him to uphold the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order. In a letter this March to Pai, Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education wrote:

Maintaining access to the information fast lane is essential to the academic and civic missions of our colleges and universities and to the important work done every day at those institutions by millions of students, researchers, faculty and staff. These net neutrality principles, now more than ever, are needed to ensure that the internet remains open, accessible and affordable to all.

Another result of repealing net neutrality is the introduction of ‘paid prioritization’. Paid prioritization is the notion of ISPs selling faster or prioritized internet services to entities that pay a higher fee, or degrading services to applications that compete with an ISPs’ own services. Higher education institutions that cannot afford to pay this fee will experience slower internet speeds, and the schools that do pay will most likely pass this fee onto its students in the form of a tuition increase. The senior vice president of government relations at the American Council on Education (ACE) Terry Hartle said, “Those costs can’t simply be swallowed by schools, so they will be passed on to students and their families without any additional benefit to them.”

In a letter delivered today, 28 Senators asked that the FCC delay the “monumental decision” to dismantle net neutrality saying, “By overturning the Commission’s current rules that preserve net neutrality and prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking, throttling, or otherwise privileging lawful content, we fear that the Draft Order could harm our nation’s students and schools.” The letter also argues that removing net neutrality would lead to a “tiered and compartmentalized internet” that would limit students and schools who can’t afford it.

FCC’s Chairman Pai argues that abolishing net neutrality would lead to a freer market, with higher investments in the internet service provider (ISP) sector—in turn allowing ISPs to develop and grow beneficial services while promoting competition. Currently competition among ISPs is nearly non-existent in many U.S. locations. The FCC is set to vote on its proposal to remove net neutrality protections this Thursday, December 14th.


**Stay connected to the world of higher education with HigherEd Direct — Check out our database with a free trial here.


College Apprenticeship program

Devos Calling on “Major Shift” to Apprenticeship Programs in Higher Ed

Education Secretary Betsy Devos is calling for a “major shift” in higher education from its emphasis on traditional four-year degrees. At the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council gathering, Devos stressed the importance of apprenticeship programs to fill jobs. She said, “For decades now, we have given the subtle, or not so subtle, message that the only path for a successful life is a four-year degree.” Devos continued with, “We have to give students a much wider venue of opportunities starting in high school and middle school to help guide them into a productive future.”

The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council was held in Washington D.C. last week, and Secretary Devos concentrated on the importance of local businesses and companies working with community colleges and local schools. Devos also argued for change in the curriculum of schools to better reflect the needs of businesses and “real world” jobs saying, “We need to expand our thinking on what apprenticeships actually look like…we need to start treating students as individuals, not boxing them in.”

Devos’ remarks come a day after officials from four major companies—IBM, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Lincoln Electric—met with the Department of Labor and the American Association of Community Colleges to set up a task force and discuss the future expansion of apprenticeship programs within higher education. The Department of Labor’s Ondray Harris said, “Apprenticeships are a way to close that skills gap—to earn and learn. I think it’s a natural fit for community colleges.” In order to facilitate the expansion of apprenticeship programs, the DOL has set up a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the AACC to work closer with community colleges and grow apprenticeship programs. Regarding the upcoming Memorandum, the director of the DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship John Ladd said “It’s the absolute next step in the evolution of this partnership.”


**Stay current with all the changing administrators in higher education with HigherEd Direct. Click here for a free trial of our online database.

Rural Students Underrepresented in Higher Education

According to recent research from the United States Department of Agriculture and National Student Clearinghouse, students in rural areas are less likely than their urban peers to attend higher education institutions—despite testing higher and graduating from high school at higher rates.

High school Graduation Rates:

  1. Suburban/Town students: 79%
  2. Urban Students 69%
  3. Rural Students 80%

College enrollment rates directly out of high school:

  1. Suburban students: 67%
  2. Urban students: 62%
  3. Rural Students: 59 %

One reason is that historically, a college degree has not always been necessary in rural areas. Students out of high school could once find high paying unskilled work on farms and at factories with blue collar jobs. With the increase in automation and the growth of job outsourcing overseas, rural Americans have seen their job prospects drop considerably. Rural regions also tend to see less value in higher education. Pew Research found that fewer people in the rural community are convinced that enrolling in college is worth it with 71% of rural white men believing that college plays an essential role in providing necessary skills, while 82% and 84% of urban and suburban white men believe it does.

Other factors in lower rural college enrollment rates:

  1. Higher rates of drug and mental health problems
  2. Higher rates of poverty—household incomes are 20 to 25 percent below national averages.
  3. Less access to high speed internet/technology
  4. Lower rates of high school teacher recruitment and retention

Colleges have taken notice of this gap and are beginning to increase recruitment efforts in rural areas. According to a survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, 38% of surveyed college admissions directors plan to concentrate on recruiting rural students in the coming year. Schools are also looking to provide better access to higher education through fellowship and scholarship opportunities, with schools like Clemson and Duke University that offer scholarships aimed at students located in remote areas. States like Oklahoma and Texas are also offering new programs, such as College Forward, aimed at expanding free counseling to potential students in rural areas.

Ways Colleges are looking to help rural area students

  1. Rural-specific college application guides, including virtual advisers and online prep courses
  2. Extending class times, allowing students more time to travel the longer distances
  3. Increased internet access on remote campuses

As economies in rural areas continue to shift toward careers that require postsecondary educations, it is becoming increasingly imperative for students in those areas attain degrees. Despite previously receiving less attention from the higher education community, increased recruitment efforts and programs in said areas may improve the educational attainment and economic interests of rural communities as a whole.


*Keep up with all the changes in higher education with HigherEd Direct!

Mobile Apps and Higher Education

With 90 percent of college students owning a smartphone (46 percent own a tablet), colleges and universities are no longer debating whether to develop their own mobile platforms. Instead, they are creating new apps for students who are consistently using their smartphones more and more. Recruitment-focused apps tend to provide prospectus-type information, while apps leaning towards engagement try to increase the value of a student’s experience itself.

On campus, recruiters are using new campus tour apps that allow prospective students to explore campuses on their own time, and at their own pace. The apps use GPS to guide users to key points on campus. When prospective students arrive at the points of interest—audio, visual, and other effects can be used to offer information on specific locations, interests, and events. Catholic University in Washington D.C., highlights its unique architecture, and Findlay University boasts of its equestrian and vet facilities. Other advantages of virtual college tour apps include tours being offered in multiple languages, and the use of real-time analytics to gather data.

Colleges and universities are also using apps to engage with students beyond campus maps and class schedules. The University of Notre Dame’s campus app provides multiple features for students such as modules for laundry availability, safe ride requests, and indoor maps—which help students navigate and find key locations such as offices, classrooms, and printers. UVA uses its smartphone application to help students connect to support services, such as peer counseling and mental health facilities.

Beyond the Instagram and Facebook pages of higher education institutions, mobile apps are becoming increasingly necessary for schools who want to attract and maintain relevance across their populace of potential students. As of last fall, 79 percent of colleges and universities had working mobile apps or planned to offer them by the end of the academic year.  This is up 20 percent from the previous year, and 40% from 2012. According to Amy Boyd, project manager for the app at Texas State University Moblie, “Everything seems to be going mobile, and if you don’t have that, you’re really falling behind the times.”


Supporters and Critics Speak Out on Purdue-Kaplan Merger

Purdue University recently announced its intention to acquire the for-profit Kaplan University system. If approved, the move would set a major precedent in the integration of for-profits with traditional colleges and universities.  Purdue President and former Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels said, “A public university coming together with an established online university I think is by any definition a national first.”

The Kaplan system, which includes online learning programs, 15 campuses, 32,000 enrolled students and 3,000 employees, was purchased from its parent company, Graham Holdings, for $1 in a revenue sharing agreement that allows current Kaplan officials to continue running the new entity. Under the terms of the agreement, Kaplan will receive 12.5% of the public, nonprofit benefit corporation’s yearly revenue. If the merger is approved, Purdue will solidify its position as the first large flagship university to merge with a major for-profit player in online education.

Critics in higher education see the new partnership as a way for Kaplan to rebrand by becoming a non-profit and attaching itself to a reputable university. Bob Shireman of the Century Foundation—a think tank that investigates for-profit institutions—told the USA Today that the deal is like a bad restaurant being able to claim new ownership in order to improve its reputation without making any additional changes. Nonprofit schools are not subject to the strict regulations that have been placed on for-profit institutions in recent years. Critics also point out that Kaplan has been the focal point of past government investigations and lawsuits.

Many of the faculty at Purdue University disagree with the decision. The Purdue University Senate has passed a resolution against the Kaplan merger condemning the Board of Trustees for entering into a deal with little faculty input. Some worry that the Purdue brand will be diluted and students will be left with insignificant degrees. Bill Mullen, a Purdue professor, criticized the school by saying, “They (faculty) were never consulted about this plan, even though it is their work and excellence that has made Purdue one of the elite Universities in the world. Daniels (Purdue’s President) dirty deal with Kaplan permanently stains Purdue’s academic reputation and ruthlessly exploits the labor of its students, staff, and faculty.”

Donald Graham of Graham Holdings, Kaplan’s parent company, says Kaplan and Purdue “share the critical mission of expanding access to education,” and views the deal as mutually beneficial.  Purdue will be able to tap into a new online market and student demographic, while Kaplan will become part of a respected public Purdue system. Proponents believe the merger will provide new opportunities for nontraditional as well as former students who want to resume educations they previously put on hold. The acquisition depends on approval from both state and federal regulators, including the Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission. If approved, the deal has the potential to change the way traditional higher education institutions operate, with more for-profit to nonprofit partnerships likely.

For updates on the Kaplan deal, changes in higher education administrators, and school accreditation info visit our website at

New Student Debt for Mortgage Swap Program

Last week Fannie Mae announced an expansion of its student loan refinance program and shed light on new policies designed to help borrowers with student debt become qualified for mortgage loans.  “We understand the significant role that a monthly student loan payment plays in a potential home buyer’s consideration to take on a mortgage, and we want to be part of the solution,” said Jonathan Lawless, vice president of customer solutions at Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae’s new expansion includes a student loan cash-out refinance that offers homeowners a new way to pay off high interest student debt.  The program works by homeowners refinancing their homes, and the bank sending the money to the student lender to completely pay off at least one loan.  Currently, interest rates for home financing are below 4 percent, meaning it could save a borrower money (many student loans are topping 7 percent).  For some, it may be a faster way to consolidate student loan debt at a lower rate.

However, by moving debt from a student loan to a home loan, borrowers lose protection.  Student loans usually offer the option of an income-driven repayment plan or a deferral for financial difficulties.  Mortgages do not.  Rohit Chopra, senior fellow at the Consumer Federation of America, says “Once you refinance and put it into your mortgage, you’re putting your house at risk.”  Chopra expects the first users of the system will be parents who took out loans for their children’s education.  These borrowers are more likely to pay high interest rates and have plenty of home equity.

Another new policy is a ‘debt paid by others’ solution that excludes non-mortgage debt — like car loans, credit cards, and student loans — paid by someone else (steadily for 12 months) from a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio.  This is designed to improve the debt ratios of young buyers and widen their eligibility to qualify for a home loan.

According to Lawless, Fannie Mae started the new programs to help offset the negative effect student debt was having on the housing market.  “We arrived at these product ideas after seeing the size of student loan debt, which is $1.4 trillion.  But there’s another number to pay attention to – the $8 trillion in home equity,” Lawless said.  “There is enough housing equity in California alone to pay off the student debt of the entire nation.  We wanted to find a way to unlock that equity.”

Some lenders aren’t as enthusiastic about the changes. According to the Chicago Tribune, Steve Stamets, senior loan officer with Mortgage Link, worries about the sheer size of some student’s debts. He said previously these applicants couldn’t be approved under the old rules and now will qualify under the new program.  If borrowers have trouble making full payments on mortgages, they could end up in default on their home mortgages.  Fannie Mae expects mortgages that originate using the new system to have low default rates, and notes applicants must still meet regular credit score criteria.  Rhohit Chopra, with the Consumer Federation of America, says “the jury is still out” on whether the program is a good thing.  “New products and financial innovation can help borrowers save money,” he says, “but they can also be prone to abuse.”

Students Uncertain About Predictive Technology

As colleges continue to use big data more frequently, the long-term effects are yet to be fully understood. Major institutions and software companies see high tech programs as a means to an end in predicting the foreseeable outcome of students at colleges and universities. Though, this may to some extent be true, a growing number of students believe big data may be used to classify and designate them before they have a chance to get their academic careers off the ground. Students are concerned that data will depersonalize the student teacher relationship, and push them down a predestined path based off of a computer’s algorithm and not a student’s individual achievements.

Students from Michigan’s Macomb Community College raised concerns about these predictive programs recently at EduCon 2.9, an education and technology conference in Philadelphia. As reported by Hechinger Report, the panel of students from Macomb CC feel that existing stereotypes are already in place, and many students are not ready to trust the new, digital systems. “We don’t know who is choosing it and who is pulling the strings,” said Luis Manzano-Anzures, a student at Michigan’s Macomb Community College.

Proponents of big data’s predictive analytics argue that the programs are in place for the benefits of students. They say the information is there to identify students who are at risk of failure and provide support for those students. Students are still skeptical, asking what happens if analytical data is turned against them. Last year at Mount St. Mary’s University, their president made news after he proposed using their system’s data to find struggling students and “drown the bunnies” as he phrased it, to make them leave.

Students are worried that a similar type of program may be put into place. Hechinger Report concluded that the students at EduCon expressed concern that they won’t get to see the data being stored, and that computers may be overly predicative when it comes to academic ability. Many students see Ed tech systems that don’t take human relationships and outside influences into account. If a student is struggling because of personal reasons, predictive technology may not take that into consideration. For now, especially at community colleges where digital resources are limited and students and faculty concentrate on working class realities, digital technology may create a system that is unreliable at predicting the future of students.