The Department of Education (ED) on Monday took its final step in ending federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), a group that provided accreditation to for-profit institutions. Schools with ACICS accreditation will now have 18 months to obtain approval from a different recognized accreditor in order to maintain institutional Title IV eligibility. The final decision comes nearly three months after ACICS filed an appeal of the termination, though it may not be the end of the issue as ACICS plans to file litigation “seeking injunctive and other relief through the courts,” according to a statement from the group. Reported by NASFAA.

Here is an excerpt form the letter written by the Secretary of Education on the final decision:

The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS or agency) has appealed a September 22, 2016, letter (decision Letter) regarding its recognition status from the Senior Department Official (SDO) at the U.S. Department of Education (department). In the Decision Letter, SDO Emma Vadehra found ACICS noncompliant with numerous regulatory criteria for departmental recognition of ACICS as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. ACICS requests that I reverse that decision and exercise discretion to continue the agency’s regognition for a period of 12 months or less, or, alternatively, return its petition for recognition (petition) to the Department’s staff and/or the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) for reconsideration. Counsel for the SDO has filed an opposition brief urging that I uphold the SDO’s decision. ACICS also filed a reply brief (and later, supplementary exhibits) in which it for the first time requested an additional hearing to present further argument on this matter.

After a de novo review of the entirety of the record, I find ACICS to be out of compliance with numerous regulatory criteria. Because of the nature and scope of ACICS’s pervasive noncompliance, I further conclude that ACICS is not capable of coming into compliance within 12 months or less, even if I renewed its recognition for an additional 12 months. I therefore adopt the SDO decision and withdraw and terminate the Department’s recognition of ACICS as a recognized accrediting agency.