By Annie Waldman, ProPublica
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), released a report today slamming an accreditor of for-profit colleges for its “appalling record of failure.”
“Students and taxpayers have paid the price” for the failures of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), she wrote in an accompanying letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education. Warren urged the Department of Education to take “strong, aggressive action to hold ACICS accountable.”
Citing ProPublica’s reporting, Warren blasted ACICS for accrediting schools that “consistently produce astronomical debt levels and terrible outcomes for students.”
Warren’s report comes nearly a year after she grilled members of ACICS during a Senate hearing on their failure to sanction Corinthian Colleges, which kept its accreditation until the day the school collapsed in bankruptcy.
Because of ACICS’ continued accreditation, the Department of Education doled out billions of dollars in federal loans to Corinthian students, despite ongoing lawsuits and investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and nearly two dozen state attorneys general.
The accreditor’s failings have persisted even after the fall of Corinthian. Warren pointed to 16 other colleges that have kept their accreditation amid ongoing government investigations.
Accreditors are nonprofit agencies that are supposed to provide oversight on college quality. Colleges rely on an accreditor’s stamp of approval to gain access to the federal government’s generous coffers of student aid. Many for-profit schools rely so heavily on federal loans that losing accreditation could jeopardize…