One of the country’s largest for-profit college accreditors, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, is under review by the Federal government under suspicion of looking the other way when it comes to deception by predatory colleges. The council’s track history includes the Corinthian College chain and the ITT Technical Institute chain; both of these school chains are closed down under fraud allegations.
There are multiple accreditors employed by the United States Department of Education to review the quality of a college. If quality standards are met, then the school becomes eligible for federal funding. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools is responsible for over a hundred for-profit colleges.
The council is receiving heat after approving several schools, the Corinthian College and ITT Tech chains, that subsequently were put under review by the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. One of the accusations against the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools includes setting loose standards for schools to qualify for federal funding. To put this in perspective, the council in question accounted for almost $6 billion of federal funding to for-profit colleges in the past several years.
This is a direct conflict of interest for the government given its recent attempts to loosen standards on debt forgiveness for students who attended predatory for-profit colleges. While one of the governments accrediting councils approves potentially fraudulent for-profit colleges, sections of the government seek to provide debt forgiveness to students who are attending these colleges. One issue directly affects the other since the demand to provide future debt forgiveness will drop if fraudulent colleges do not receive federal funding.
There is no doubt that these councils and fraudulent for-profit colleges influence the student loan debt issue. They take in students who require student loans, but these students enter the college under the impression that their investment is worthwhile. In the end, these student borrowers are misled, and they experience greater difficulty paying back their loans as a result.
One of the prominent voices on student loans from the federal government spoke out against fraudulent accrediting councils last year. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stated that she did not “know what good they do” and asked “why we would let them determine which colleges are eligible for federal dollars.”
The track record of the council does not garner any confidence. No less than 17 colleges who received approval from the council in question are under federal investigation and review. These colleges received funding while misleading their student body, but the accrediting council is likely to face government action.
A scheduled review of the Accrediting council for Independent Colleges and Schools is to take place in June 2016. There is plenty of support for stripping the council of all authority from critics and politicians across the nation.