By law, in order for a college to get money from the federal government, it has to be accredited. An accredition agency is supposed to make sure that colleges are doing their job and providing you with a quality education. In the for-profit sector, schools have been bribing accreditors for years. The Department of Education has been looking the other way, letting criminals get away with trapping students in unpayable debt.
Finally, after years of inaction by federal authorities, one major for-profit college accreditor, ACICS, (click here to see if your college was accredited by them) was put on notice this week that it may soon be shut down by the Department. (Read David Halperin's report on this week's decision here .)
Make no mistake, ACICS is in trouble because students got together and got organized: with the help of the Debt Collective, they have declared a debt strike, filed tens of thousands of defense to repayment claims, testified at public hearings, submitted hundreds of complaint letters to the Department of Education, and made their voices heard in the media and via on- and off-campus protests.
If ACICS loses its contract with the Department of Education, that means that no campuses accredited by ACICS will not be able to get student aid money (and no student at that campus will be able to get a student loan) without finding another accreditor. In other words, it's possible that all the schools accredited by ACICS will shut down within the next 18 months, if not sooner.
What does ACICS's probable downfall mean for you?
If you attend an ACICS-accredited campus, your school is probably a scam. You might want to think twice about staying enrolled. You should talk to other students, present and former, about the quality of education you have received and whether you think it is worth it to continue in your program. You should know that if you complete your program before the school closes, it will be harder for you to get a discharge of your loans. If you leave without a degree within 120 days of the school closing, you become eligible for a closed school discharge.
As the situation with ACICS develops, we will keep you updated on this blog. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org with specific questions and we will do our best to get back to you in a timely fashion. You can also join a Facebook page associated with your school to connect with other students.
Solidarity, The Debt Collective