The U.S. Department of Education announced its decision to withdraw the American Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) recognition as a federally recognized agency in December 2016. ACICS appealed but on Feb. 21, 2017, a federal court sided with the Education Department, allowing it to terminate federal recognition. This affects hundreds of online and for-profit schools nationwide. A complete list of schools accredited by ACICS is available here.
How does this impact me?
Recent legislation allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to continue paying GI Bill benefits for up to 18 months following the withdrawal of recognition of an accrediting agency, as in the case of ACICS, while the school seeks alternate accreditation or program approval.
Students should be aware that if their schools do not achieve new federally recognized accreditation or receive approval from the State Approving Agency as a non-accredited educational institution, they will not be able to use Federal Student Aid and GI Bill benefits at the school within 18 months.
Students may want to consider their education goals and decide whether their current schools and programs will meet their needs. Remember, even if schools remain approved for GI Bill benefits, they may no longer be accredited by a federally recognized accrediting agency. This may affect students’ ability to transfer credits to another institution or site for state licensing exams, as well as other potential impacts. Students should keep in mind details such as whether other schools will accept credits, what kind of accreditation (regional or national) another school has, and whether that school provides the flexibility necessary for career goals.
Where can I go for help?
• The American Legion has service officers in every state who can provide answers to questions about education benefits, federal student loans and credit transferability. Find a service officer near you at www.legion.org/serviceofficers.
• Pearson Education is working with The American Legion to help build alliances on behalf of the ACICS student veterans with not-for-profit, regionally accredited institutions. Students interested in learning about options for completing or continuing their education should register at www.pearsoned.com/forms/acics-student-veterans/.