As of December 12, 2016, The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools is no longer recognized by the US Department of Education (USDOE). Virginia International University has been granted an 18-month grace period to become accredited with a different agency in order to maintain eligibility for Federal Student Aid (Title IV HEA Programs). ACICS remains recognized by the Council on Higher Education Administration (CHEA).
VIU is currently pursuing accreditation with a different national accrediting agency, as well as regional accreditation. We submitted our application for national accreditation in the fall of last year, and hope to achieve membership with a new agency within the next 18 months as required by the Department of Education.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is accreditation and why does VIU need it?
According to the US Department of Education, accreditation is defined as “the recognition that an institution maintains standards requisite for its graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.” In short, accreditation is a quality standard that institutions strive to provide to students to ensure that their degree is valuable. VIU needs accreditation in order to be transparent and show that the education that students receive at our university is of a certain caliber.
2. Is VIU still accredited?
Yes! VIU remains a recognized, accredited institution as of today. The USDOE has granted an 18-month grace period to all ACICS-accredited institutions, meaning that for the next 18 months, we will remain a recognized, accredited institution. It is our plan to remain in good standing past the 18-month grace period by seeking and achieving accreditation with a different agency.
3. Why did ACICS lose their recognition?
The USDOE and a congressional panel, known as NACIQI, have determined that ACICS failed to enforce certain quality standards for a few very large university systems, such as Corinthian and ITT Technical Institute. In response, the Department revoked their recognition of ACICS and granted schools an 18-month grace period.
4. Why didn’t VIU prevent the loss of recognition?
Nothing that VIU did or could have done had an impact on the operations of ACICS in terms of other institutions. There is nothing that VIU could have done, as an institution, to prevent ACICS from losing their recognition. VIU had no bearing on the decision made by the USDOE.
5. How does this affect VIU Students?
VIU is seeking accreditation with a national accrediting agency and hopes to achieve this within the 18-month grace period. This will help to keep the impact on VIU students to a minimum. We will continue to diligently pursue this goal in the coming months.
6. How does this affect international students?
SEVIS has agreed to honor the 18-month grace period granted by the USDOE. As VIU continues to be considered as accredited by a recognized agency over this 18-month period, all benefits will continue, with the exception of the STEM OPT extension. The basis for the STEM OPT extension is that an institution must be accredited by a current recognized accrediting agency. As ACICS lost their recognition on December 12, 2016, students applying for STEM OPT extension will not be eligible until the point where new accreditation is obtained. VIU is working to acquire new accreditation as quickly as possible. Our initial application was submitted in the Fall of 2016.
7. How does this affect my degree/alumni?
All degrees that have been awarded in the past will continue to be valid and honored. A degree status is based on the recognition of the accrediting agency at the time that the degree was awarded. Any degrees awarded within the 18-month grace period will continue to have the same level of recognition. At the time that VIU becomes accredited by a different institution, all degrees will then be associated with the new agency.
8. What agencies did VIU apply for new accreditation with?
VIU is seeking alternative national accreditation at this time, but we are not permitted to name the agency that we are seeking accreditation from. We do not want make a mistake that could cause us to get delayed or denied in seeking accreditation from a new agency. We prefer to release the information as it becomes appropriate and permissible in the accreditation process.