October 12, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Carrie Wofford | (202) 838-5050

Veterans Education Success Finds ACICS-Approved Schools Remain Among Nation’s Worst

Discredited agency receives failing marks after temporary reinstatement; Students continue to fare worse academically, carry unmanageable debt

Washington, D.C. – Veterans Education Success (VES) has found 70 percent of students who attend schools approved by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) earn no more than a high school graduate and are twice as likely as other students to have unmanageable debt.

In 2016, the U.S. Education Department stripped ACICS of its federal accrediting authority for its inability to meet minimum standards, but last month, Diane Auer Jones, a former for-profit college lobbyist appointed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to make the determination about ACICS’ future, recommended the agency be allowed to continue as federally-recognized accreditor for an additional year – giving it more time to come into compliance with Department standards, if the Secretary affirms Jones’ recommendation.

VES compiled an analysis from the most recent College Scorecard data to determine student outcomes at schools that remain reliant on ACICS accreditation.

“Our findings are concerning. Schools still accredited by ACICS show worse outcomes than the schools that were under the agency’s watch when it was terminated in 2016,” said Carrie Wofford, president of VES. “Students who now attend ACICS-accredited schools show a substantially smaller chance of succeeding in today’s workforce and paying down their educational debt after attending. This not only affects students across the country, but also a significant number of student veterans.  And it affects the taxpayers who will pay hundreds of millions of dollars in federal student aid and GI Bill benefits to these schools.”

The number of schools that ACICS oversees has dwindled from 245, at the time of the Department’s 2016 decision to terminate, to 100 schools as of September 2018. Some schools have since shut down and many of the better-performing schools have sought accreditation from another accreditor. Of the institutions that remain within ACICS’ portfolio, 90 percent are for-profit institutions and most were rejected by other accreditors because they failed to meet minimum standards.

Read the entire report for detailed information.


About Veterans Education Success

Veterans Education Success (VES) is a veteran advocacy organization whose mission is to advance higher education success for veterans, servicemembers, and military-connected students and to defend the integrity and promise of the GI Bill and other federal education programs for veterans and servicemembers. VES offers policy expertise to policymakers and conducts non-partisan research on issues of concern to student veterans, including student outcomes and debt levels. VES also offers free legal services, advice, and college and career counseling to servicemembers, veterans, their survivors, and families using federal education benefits, and helps veterans participate in their democracy by engaging with their Congressional representatives. Additional information is available at www.vetsedsuccess.org.