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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

AG HEALEY CALLS ON EDUCATION SECRETARY DEVOS TO REJECT ACCREDITOR THAT ALLOWED PREDATORY SCHOOLS TO CHEAT STUDENTS

AG HEALEY CALLS ON EDUCATION SECRETARY DEVOS TO REJECT ACCREDITOR THAT ALLOWED PREDATORY SCHOOLS TO CHEAT STUDENTSLeads Multistate Comments Opposing ACICS’s Application for Recognition; Notes ‘Extreme Oversight Failures’ by ACICS in Enabling Abuse by For-Profit Schools

            BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey led a coalition of 20 attorneys general in opposing an application by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) to regain its status as a nationally-recognized accreditor, noting the accreditor’s “extreme and far-reaching oversight failures” and the serious harm it caused students and taxpayers across the country by enabling fraud and abuse by predatory for-profit schools.

In response to the U.S. Department of Education’s call for written comments, AG Healey led a coalition of 20 attorneys general in calling on the Department to reject ACICS’s application, making clear that approving it would violate federal laws and regulations aimed at protecting students.

In the comments, the attorneys general note that the Department terminated ACICS’s recognition just over a year ago due to ACICS’s pervasive oversight failures. Under the Department’s regulations, the attorneys general assert, ACICS cannot meet the threshold eligibility requirements for receiving national recognition.

“ACICS gave a stamp of approval to schools that repeatedly defrauded students and taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars,” said AG Healey. “Secretary DeVos should categorically deny this request for recognition.”

Accreditors serve a critical role in ensuring that schools provide students with an education that meets minimum standards of quality. They function as gatekeepers, protecting students from abuse by institutions that offer education of little-to-no value. When accreditors, like ACICS, fail to fulfill this responsibility, they enable abusive schools to cheat students and families under the guise of providing an education.
           
According to the comments, ACICS’s oversight failures include its decision to extend accreditation to schools like ITT Tech and Lincoln Technical Institute in Massachusetts, along with a large number of campuses operated by the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges. ACICS continued accrediting Corinthian even after upwards of 20 state and federal agencies initiated investigations into Corinthian’s fraud, and up until the day Corinthian declared bankruptcy.

“ACICS’s previous stint as a nationally recognized accreditor provides a stark illustration of the damage done to both students and taxpayers when accreditors fail to fulfill their oversight responsibilities. During these years, ACICS willingly accredited predatory schools that left students across the country mired in debt and without the quality education they were promised,” the comments state.

            In April 2016, AG Healey joined 12 state attorneys general in sendingcomments links to PDF file to the Department’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, opposing the renewal of ACICS and urging the U.S. Department of Education to revoke its status as a recognized accreditor. AG Healey subsequently led a coalition of states that successfully intervened in a lawsuit to defend the Department’s decision to terminate ACICS’s recognition.

Attorneys general from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington joined the comments with Massachusetts.

Students looking for more information or assistance should visit the AG’s Student Lending Assistance page or call the Student Loan Assistance Unit Hotline at 1-888-830-6277.

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