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Tue Mar 1, 2016, 05:11 AM

Who Keeps Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Flowing to For-Profit Colleges? These Guys

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/35448-who-keeps-billions-of-taxpayer-dollars-flowing-to-for-profit-colleges-these-guys

Accreditors are supposed to make sure that schools provide students with a quality education. They are not government agencies, but wield enormous power: Schools need accreditors’ stamps of approval to maintain access to the government’s annual $170 billion in federal student aid.

Losing accreditation would be fatal for most for-profit schools since they rely on federal aid for much of their income. But accreditors rarely crack down, even when students are struggling. One of the areas where students at for-profits face extra burden is debt: While only one-tenth of college students attend for-profit schools, they account for nearly half of all students’ defaults.

What role are accreditors playing? Using recently released federal data, ProPublica analyzed how students are faring under the various accreditors that oversee many for-profit schools.

One accreditor stands out: The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, also known as ACICS. It oversees hundreds of mainly for-profit schools where students struggle at remarkably high rates.

Just 35 percent of students at a typical ACICS-accredited four-year college graduate, the lowest rate for any accreditor. Nationally, the graduation rate at four-year schools is around 59 percent. (Read our methodology for details on how we crunched the numbers for our analysis.)

“If you don’t graduate anyone, you can’t make claims that your program is any good,” said Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress.

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