Accreditor of Low-Prestige Schools, ACICS, Lost Two-Thirds of Its Revenue

By David North on February 20, 2020

Whereas in some segments of immigration enforcement there have been rising expenditures — the number of Border Patrol agents, for example, doubled between 2003 and 2018 — one of the entities impacting the number of foreign students in the country lost two-thirds of its funding in the last four years.

Since the government largely farms out the accreditation of schools for F-1 foreign students — a questionable act in and of itself — we are not talking about the federal budget. There are a number of accreditation agencies, supported by fees paid by their regulated clients — another oddity — that do the job. Working with some of the lowest-prestige colleges is the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), a entity we have written about more than once.

ACICS has lost income (primarily in fees collected) in each of the last three reporting cycles, as is shown below. It has operated at a net loss for the last three years, and in each of these it has more than nibbled at its reserve funds.

If one were on the ACICS payroll, and looking at the prospect of further reductions in fee income should a given school's credentials be cancelled, might that be a factor in one's decision-making? I am not asserting that this occurs, just that it would be in the realm of possibility.

Income Drops for Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (Rounded)

Period Total Revenue Net Income Net Assets at End of Year
2014-2015 $14,419,000 $1,189,000 $16,977,000
2015-2016 $12,298,000 ($515,000) $15,713,000
2016-2017 $8,288,000 ($1,622,000) $14,588,000
2017-2018 $4,629,000 ($1,566,000) $13,129,000

Source: Form 990s filed by ACICS with IRS. This form is a sort of 1040 for non-profit entities.

Just as government should not give financial rewards for the most arrests, on the grounds that such an action might inappropriately tilt decision-making, the reverse should be true as well.