ACICS FAQs

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 2016, and hope to achieve membership with a new agency prior to June 12, 2018 as required by the US Department of Education and State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

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 an accredited institution as of today.  The US Department of Education has granted an 18-month grace period to all ACICS-accredited institutions, meaning that until at least June 12, 2018, we will remain an 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. What about your certification to operate in Virginia?

Due to the situation with ACICS, the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV) has granted an additional grace period to schools to become accredited by a Department of Education recognized agency. This means that VIU is conditionally certified to operate as an institution of Higher Education in the state of Virginia.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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. VIU is conditionally certified to operate in Virginia by SCHEV, and has provisional approval to continue offering Federal Student Aid.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.
For more information about VIU’s accreditation, please contact qa@viu.edu. We will do our best to assist you.

10. What happens if VIU does not get new accreditation by June 12, 2018?

Due to application processing times, the process of earning new accreditation has taken much longer than VIU administration anticipated. Due to this, we are quickly approaching the deadline of June 12, 2018, and there is a chance that the new accreditation may not be in effect prior to this deadline, though we at VIU remain hopeful that we will gain accreditation in advance of the deadline. If VIU does not become accredited by June 12, 2018, our conditional certification to operate by SCHEV would be at risk of revocation, and we could be required to close, unless SCHEV were to approve an extension based on our accreditation plans.

11. Where is VIU in the Accreditation Process?

As of December 2017, VIU has submitted and received approval on our initial application for accreditation. We have also submitted our Self Study, and have been granted a site visit by the Accrediting Commission of Career Colleges & Schools. Information sessions will be held in early January leading up to the visit. An additional review visit with ACICS is also scheduled for January 16-17, 2018.

For more information about VIU’s accreditation, please contact qa@viu.edu. We will do our best to assist you.