Higher Education News

Accrediting Council Should Be Denied Recognition, Says Education Dept.

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 15, 2016 - 8:49am
The accreditor of for-profit colleges was found to have failed to meet several federal criteria for renewed recognition.
Categories: Higher Education News

What College Accreditation Changes Mean for Students

U.S. Department of Education Blog - June 15, 2016 - 7:04am

For millions of Americans, federal student loans and grants open the doors to a college education. That critical federal aid must be used at a school that is (among other things) given the seal of approval by an “accrediting agency” or “accreditor” recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It’s one of the safeguards in the system. Accreditation is an important signal to students, families, and the Department about whether a school offers a quality education. Accreditors have a responsibility under federal law to make sure colleges earn that seal.

But what happens when the Department stops recognizing an accrediting agency?

It’s a relatively unusual case, but it’s a relevant one today. As part of our regular process for reviewing accreditors – staff at the Department recommended that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (or ACICS) should no longer be recognized by the Department as an agency that can provide schools with an accreditation that makes them eligible for participation in federal aid. For more information on the failures that led to that recommendation click here.

This is not the final word on ACICS – so nothing is inevitable or happens immediately – but this recommendation does kick off a process that students will want to know more about.

I’ll try to answer some of what you might be wondering today – and we’ll continue to provide more information as the process plays out.

How do I know if my school is accredited by ACICS?

Good first question. You can look it up here.

What does this mean for students at ACICS-accredited institutions?

First – don’t panic. As I said, this is just an initial recommendation. Nothing happens inevitably or immediately.

The chain of events that plays out next will take – at minimum – more than 18 months. That means that many of the students who already have started at one of these schools will be able to complete their certificates or degrees before there is a chance of anything changing.

Generally speaking, if you’re near the end of your program or you’re preparing to transfer to another college or university, this news probably won’t interrupt your program.

Maybe it would be helpful if I explain…

What happens next?

The actual decision will be made by a senior official here at the Department. That senior official will consider the staff recommendation released today along with another recommendation by an independent board called the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (or NACIQI) that advises the Department on these issues.

NACIQI meets next week to form its own recommendation.

Once the deciding official has received both recommendations, she has 90 days to review them before making a decision on whether or not to recognize the agency. After that, if ACICS disagrees with the decision, the agency has 30 days to appeal to the Secretary of Education.

What if the Department ultimately decides to end its recognition of ACICS?

If the deciding official (or the Secretary, if there’s an appeal) ultimately decides to stop recognizing ACICS, schools that it has accredited will have 18 months to get a seal of approval from a different recognized accreditor in order to stay eligible for federal student aid. That’s why I said earlier that it will take at least 18 months for this chain of events to play out before there’s any impact on your aid.

Of course, individual circumstances vary greatly. If you’re wondering whether changes in your school’s accreditation status might affect your specific plans, you should reach out to your school for individualized advice.

It’s worth noting here that licensing for some jobs – but not all – may require that your program is currently accredited by a Department-recognized accreditor. Contact your institution or the licensure board in your field to see if this is the case.

Remember, even if ACICS ultimately loses its recognition, schools will have a chance to find a different accreditor for their programs.

Okay, so it will take a while, but what if a school ultimately can’t find an accreditor?

At that point, students would no longer be able to use their federal aid at those schools. Students who want to continue their education using federal loans or grants past that point would need to transfer. Schools also need to have a plan in place to inform students about their options so students are not left scrambling.

What if I want to transfer out of my school?

That’s a decision only you can make, but we have some tools that can help if you decide to transfer. In particular, you might want to check out the College Scorecard to look into other options and see how well those schools prepare their graduates for life after college.

Again, circumstances will be unique to each student and each school, but you may be able to transfer your credits. You’ll want to check with the new school’s registrars.

I just started a program at an ACICS-accredited school. What should I do?

If you’re just getting started, you might be affected if ACICS loses its recognition, especially if your program will take longer than 18 months from the time a final decision is made.

You may want to be in touch with your school to make sure they have a solid plan to pursue accreditation with a different accreditor.

You might also want to do a little research using the College Scorecard. There, you can make sure your school has a track record of preparing its students for successful careers. You can also compare other options if you’re interested in transferring.

I already graduated from an ACICS-accredited school. Is my degree compromised?

Nobody can take away the hard work you put in or the skills you gained. Your school was accredited when you earned your degree, and you’ll never have to return your certificate or diploma.

Remember, even if ACICS ultimately loses its recognition, schools will have a chance to find a different accreditor for their programs.

Now what?

First, a reminder: Don’t freak out. Nothing is final today, so you’ve got some time. If a school’s accreditor loses its recognition, the school should be in touch immediately with students and share information about their options. And the Department will monitor to make sure that happens and regularly post updates through studentaid.gov.

Whatever you choose to do, please know this: you have a wealth of options in pursuing your education, so don’t stop. Getting a high-quality degree or credential in a field where employers are hiring is still the surest way to provide for your future economic security.

For our part, we’ll keep working to protect America’s students and support them as they work to complete their degree or credential.

Thanks for all the info, but I still want to know more.

You got it. Here’s a more detailed set of questions and answers.

Matt Lehrich is Communications Director at the Department of Education

The post What College Accreditation Changes Mean for Students appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

Video Shows Heroism of Student Who Stopped a Gunman at Seattle Pacific U. in 2014

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 15, 2016 - 2:57am
The university and victims of the shooting had tried to block the release of surveillance footage of the incident.
Categories: Higher Education News

Pulse as a Sanctuary

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 15, 2016 - 2:56am
Most college towns have a club like Orlando’s Pulse. Gay bars play a role that campus pride clubs do not, offering a haven where LGBT students can feel totally free. That’s why, for many, the tragedy in Orlando feels like a violation of sacred space.
Categories: Higher Education News

Many Colleges Don’t Put Testing Requirements to the Test

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 15, 2016 - 2:55am
If students are expected to take high-stakes exams, admissions offices should be working harder to understand what the tests actually predict, a report says.
Categories: Higher Education News

To Reassure Nervous Students, Colleges Lean on LGBT Centers

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 15, 2016 - 2:55am
In the aftermath of the shooting rampage at an Orlando nightclub, gay students are seeking safe spaces. That’s where resource centers come in.
Categories: Higher Education News

How Community Colleges Use Job-Market Data to Develop New Programs

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 15, 2016 - 2:54am
College systems in Kentucky and other states are turning to companies for information that is more current and detailed than federal data on the skills that employers are looking for.
Categories: Higher Education News

Facebook Reveals How It Decides if a Research Project Is Ethical

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 15, 2016 - 2:50am
Company officials describe a process that loosely imitates the system used at universities, which convene institutional review boards to evaluate research projects on their scientific and ethical merits.
Categories: Higher Education News

38 Community Colleges to Begin Replacing Textbooks With Free Educational Resources

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 14, 2016 - 12:25pm
The open-educational-resources project, which is being coordinated by Achieving the Dream, is expected to bring the free materials to at least 76,000 students in the next three years.
Categories: Higher Education News

American Medical Assn. Declares Gun Violence a 'Public-Health Crisis'

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 14, 2016 - 11:53am
The group said it would lobby Congress to overturn legislation that prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching gun violence.
Categories: Higher Education News

St. Cloud State U. President Dies in Car Crash

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 14, 2016 - 8:23am
Earl H. Potter III was killed in a highway accident on his way to a board meeting.
Categories: Higher Education News

Orlando's Colleges Offer Solace in the Wake of Tragedy

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 14, 2016 - 2:59am
An attack on a gay nightclub over the weekend left 49 people dead and 53 wounded. Nearby colleges offered counseling, organized blood drives, and gave students a chance to reflect.
Categories: Higher Education News

Orlando’s Colleges Offer Solace in the Wake of Tragedy

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 14, 2016 - 2:59am
An attack on a gay nightclub over the weekend left 49 people dead and 53 wounded. Nearby colleges offered counseling, organized blood drives, and gave students a chance to reflect.
Categories: Higher Education News

Same Time, Many Locations: Online Education Goes Back to Its Origins

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 14, 2016 - 2:55am
Decades after colleges embraced courses that students could take at their own pace, the trend is toward synchrony once again.
Categories: Higher Education News

Why a Global Education Company Thinks It Can Revive Struggling Dowling College

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 14, 2016 - 2:55am
Maurits Van Rooijen, chief academic officer of Global University Systems, spoke with The Chronicle about his company and what it sees in a potential deal with the long-troubled private college in New York.
Categories: Higher Education News

U.S. Proposes Easier Path to Debt Relief for Defrauded Students

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 13, 2016 - 12:38pm
In a draft rule set to be released this week, the Education Department takes steps prompted by the collapse two years ago of Corinthian Colleges.
Categories: Higher Education News

Santa Ono Is Named U. of British Columbia's Next President

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 13, 2016 - 11:38am
The current president of the University of Cincinnati will start at the Canadian institution on August 15.
Categories: Higher Education News

6 Students Are Indicted in Hazing Death at College in Virginia

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 13, 2016 - 2:55am
The six were members of the Sigma Alpha Kappa fraternity at Ferrum College.
Categories: Higher Education News

New Law in South Carolina Aims to Shine More Light on Fraternity Misconduct

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 13, 2016 - 2:55am
The first-of-its-kind measure may not end hazing, but it has the potential to change campus conversations about such behavior, experts said.
Categories: Higher Education News

A ‘Sports University' Gives Student-Athletes a Chance to Play but Outsources Their Education

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 13, 2016 - 2:55am
Forest Trail Sports University has no faculty members, is not accredited, and isn’t offering any of its own courses. Experts say it exists in a gray area of regulation, raising questions about who oversees it.
Categories: Higher Education News

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