Students attending Sage College in Moreno Valley, CA were devastated to learn via email on Dec. 30 that their school was abruptly closing. Sage College officials also submitted an immediate press release echoing the news that same day.
The for-profit college, which specialized in court reporter and paralegal training, left hundreds of students with nowhere to continue their studies, and no way to recoup their tuition investments. The nearly 50 faculty members working there also face uncertain futures, as their employment became terminated.
But Sage College wasn’t itself at fault for the closure. Rather, the blame falls on school’s accrediting agency, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), which recently lost its accreditation authority under the Department of Education (DOE).
According to reports filed by the Office of Senator Elizabeth Warren back in June, evidence suggested that the ACICS:
- Repeatedly accredited schools accused of violating federal and state laws.
- Actively disregarded transgressions by its accredited schools.
- Accredited schools despite poor student outcomes.
The report also disclosed allegations against specific ACICS-accredited schools that included:
- Falsifying federal aid claims.
- Abusive marketing strategies.
- Federal financial aid theft.
- Misrepresenting job placement rates.
- Deceptive and illegal recruiting techniques.
As for Sage College students, back in October, Director Lauren Somma issued a notice emphasizing that even if its accreditation was denied, the school would receive an 18-month grace period to find alternative accreditation. As such, students would still have plenty of time to continue their coursework. Clearly, they did not.
Considering the ACICS was the biggest accrediting agency of for-profit colleges, administering accreditation to roughly 725 institutions, the long-term effects of the DOE’s decisions, namely student access to academic resources and vocational training, remains indeterminate.
The ACICS has 30 days to appeal the DOE’s decision.