Controversial For-Profit Accrediting Body Restored by Devos

Education Secretary Betsy Devos has signed an official order retaining the status of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as a federally recognized accrediting agency.  Citing a “flawed” decision-making process, Devos’ order comes on the heels of a federal district judge’s ruling that previous secretary, John King, failed to consider key evidence and used a flawed process before removing the recognition of ACICS in 2016.

ACICS, a historically for-profit accreditor, has fought for its accreditation reinstatement since the Obama administration eliminated its recognition in 2016.  King removed ACICS’s recognition after citing “pervasive compliance” problems with schools that had attained accreditation under the council. 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 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.

While temporary, with restored recognition more than 100 colleges under ACICS will again be eligible to receive federal student aid. The department’s announcement does not entirely reverse the Obama era ban but allows ACICS continued recognition for an additional 12 months while the department “conducts a further review of ACICS’s 2016 petition for recognition.” Devos also said she would review the 2016 documents and allow ACICS to submit further information to prove its future compliance. According to the order, ACICS must file written submission and “provided additional evidence that is relevant to these issues” by May 30th.  The Education Department will respond to said submission by July 30th.


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