AG Balderas to Feds: Shut Down Accreditor of Predatory, For-Profit Schools


Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216

ACICS accredits schools like Brown Mackie College, Corinthian Colleges, ITT Tech and other predatory schools

Santa Fe, NM – This week, Attorney General Hector Balderas, eleven other attorneys general and the Consumer Protection Commissioner of Hawaii sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary John King urging the federal government to cease recognition of Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting body for post-secondary institutions. ACICS accredits schools like Brown Mackie College, ITT Tech and many other schools that have failed students to an utterly indefensible degree. The letter outlines a few examples of ACICS’s sheer failure to maintain any semblance of accountability for the institutions to which it extends accreditation — most shockingly, its continued accreditation of Corinthian up until the day the company declared bankruptcy, collapsed, and the educational institutions it owned shut their doors without notice to students.

“Shutting down ACICS will help protect New Mexico students from the indefensible tactics of predatory, for-profit schools who saddle our students with unnecessary debt and in some cases leave them with worthless degrees,” Attorney General Balderas said. “My office will continue to hold corporations accountable when they employ unfair tactics and prey on New Mexicans’ desires to build better lives for their families.”

National statistics show 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.

ACICS’ most spectacular failure was its decision to extend accreditation to several dozen schools operated by Corinthian Colleges. Corinthian’s practice of offering extremely expensive degrees of little value to low-income students has been the target of more than twenty state and federal law enforcement agencies. Yet ACICS continued to provide accreditation to Corinthian’s schools until the day Corinthian declared bankruptcy. The U.S. taxpayer provided approximately $3.5 billion to Corinthian, made possible by ACICS’s accreditation.

There are other examples of ACICS’ failure to identify compliance problems and enforce its accreditation standards. In November 2015, Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that Education Management Corporation (EDMC) would significantly reform its recruiting and enrollment practices, and forgive more than $632,000 in loans for approximately 553 former New Mexico students of Brown Mackie College due to a qui tam settlement with the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General. The Office of the New Mexico Attorney General previously filed suit against ITT Tech and the school is also under investigation by 19 other states.

See attached for a copy of the letter that was sent to Secretary King.

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