Lawmakers Open Inquiry Into College Accreditation Agencies

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One might assume that a college accreditation is an indicator the school has met high standards for education and financial security. But as the recent collapse of Corinthian Colleges demonstrated, this is not always true. In an effort to ensure that America’s students aren’t duped into racking up huge debts to pay for substandard schools, lawmakers are looking to improve the oversight of accrediting agencies.

Earlier this week, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations opened an inquiry into higher education accreditation by requesting records from several agencies, Insider Higher Ed reports.

The committee notes in a letter [PDF] sent to Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) – one of the largest national accrediting agencies – that it is “reviewing the role that accreditors play in assessing the quality and financial health of postsecondary institutions and programs.”

ACICS, which provided accreditation to CCI schools up until its collapse in April – has until Nov. 13 to provide the subcommittee with all documents and data about the colleges it has accredited in the past 10 years.

While the committee has yet to make its inquiry public, ACICS confirmed it had received the information request, Insider Higher Ed reports.

“ACICS will comply in a timely fashion,” he said. “The council looks forward to working with the subcommittee to improve and strengthen the accreditation process.”

The committee’s inquiry comes just weeks after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau requested documents from ACICS related to its accreditation of for-profit colleges.

The Bureau’s request was part of its investigating into possible “unlawful acts and practices in connection with accrediting for-profit colleges,” according to Insider Higher Ed.

Senate Inquiry Into Accreditation [Inside Higher Ed]