Wondering how the ACICS issue could impact you?
Here’s what you need to know!
What Veteran Students at ITT Tech and Art Institute need to know.
Written by: Derek Fronabarger, Director of Policy at Student Veterans of America and Christina Giordano, Policy Associate at Student Veterans of America.
You may have seen headlines about how schools like The Art Institute and ITT Technical Institute are at risk due to their accrediting agency losing its authority to accredit. First of all, you should know that there are a lot of moving parts to this issue and potential legislation and rules in the pipeline to prevent any fallout that would minimize the impact to student veterans at these schools. That being said, here at Student Veterans of America, we want to make sure you know all of the facts, so that you can plan accordingly. After all, ensuring that student veterans are informed consumers of their GI Bill benefits is what we’re all about. Here’s a breakdown of what you should know:
What is ACICS?
ACICS stands for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. It is a national accrediting agency for colleges and universities throughout the U.S. In order to receive Title IV funding, aka Pell Grants, and federal financial aid, an institution needs to be recognized by an official accrediting agency, like ACICS. Yes, ACICS is a national accrediting agency, but at the same time, some consider it one of least reputable accrediting organizations due to questionable practices.
Why are people talking about ACICS?
The Secretary of Education, who oversees the accrediting agencies of schools throughout the U.S. may potentially unrecognized ACICS as an accrediting organization because of their questionable practices and negligence. The final decision will be no later than the September 21, 2016 and is subject to appeal.
Since ACICS is on its way to not being a recognized accrediting agency, all the schools who are solely accredited by them would be ineligible for those funds. All students receiving federal financial aid will need to find another school if they want to continue receiving those funds. It should be noted that this is not immediate and could take 18 months to be in full effect. However...
Why does this matter for student veterans?
Currently, student veterans do not fall under the 18-month grace period. Under VA Congressional statute, they must stop administering GI Bill funding immediately, or after the conclusion of the current semester. This means the grace period for student veterans to determine an alternative plan for their education could be as low as a few weeks depending on how each school determines a semester.
Wait...so what does this mean?
• 900+ schools will be effected by this decision.
• 35,000+ student veterans will be affected.
Keep in mind that:
• 49% of student veterans are married.
• 46% have children.
• AND 14% are single parents.
What is SVA doing and what can I do to help?
As of now, SVA is attempting to pass a legislation change allowing the VA to administer benefits to student veterans. Under Congressional statute, the VA is unable to administer benefits at schools that are not accredited. The legislation change would fix this language. Traditional students have up to 18 months to either graduate or transfer to a new school and student veterans should be afforded that same right, which the proposed legislation aims to address. Additionally, SVA is working on building agreements between schools to accept students if ACICS were to lose its approval. We ask that student veterans assist in spreading the word to other students who may be impacted. If you are a student at one of these schools, please talk with your institution and consider finding a safety school, should your benefits be revoked.
Please note that those relying on BAH to pay their mortgage or rent could see those funds cut off sooner than they think.
So now what do we do?
To know if you schools is one of the institutions impacted by this change, take a look at our list of impacted schools.