The deadline for the last of the progress milestones for ACICS schools is less than two weeks away. It’s been nearly six months since the former Secretary of Education withdrew federal recognition from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Since then, ACICS accredited schools have been flocking to other accreditors and have had to meet certain milestones and conditions prescribed by the U.S. Department of Education along the way to continue their institution’s provisional program participation with the Department. Schools that miss the progress milestones have been required to comply with additional conditions designed to protect students and taxpayers against the risk that institutions will lose federal financial aid eligibility and close, and the deadline for the last of these milestones is just a few days away.
By Monday June 12, 2017 all institutions accredited by ACICS must have an “In-Process Application” with another Accrediting Agency. For any institution that does not have an In-Process Application with another accrediting agency within 180 calendar days of the Secretary’s final decision withdrawing recognition of the institution’s accrediting agency the institution will not be eligible to receive any funds through Title IV, HEA programs for any students that enroll on or after June 12, 2017. Affected institutions must also comply with some additional conditions, including:
- Additional disclosures to its students;
- Submission of monthly student lists and a record retention plan to the Department; and
- A required Letter of Credit in an amount determined by the Department.
Schools that have an In-Process Application, but have not yet completed a site visit from a new accrediting agency have a little more time to do so. All schools transitioning to a new accreditor must have a completed site visit by Tuesday October 12, 2017.Â
As a reminder, ACICS schools are required to engage their independent auditor for an Expanded Compliance Audit. As prescribed by the Department, all institutions must engage their third-party auditors to evaluate certain key data and compliance indicators that would typically have been monitored by the accrediting agency, including fiscal information and measures of student achievement such as placement and retention rates. As we noted in our summary of audits of proprietary schools under the new Audit Guide, auditors are required to conduct a compliance audit which is more rigorous than an examination level engagement. As a result, auditors will be tying school data back to source documentation to ensure it is accurate.