Questions and Answers for Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools Students


The U.S. Department of Education has made the decision to terminate the federal recognition of Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as a nationally recognized accrediting agency as of June 2, 2021. If you are a student or a former student of an institution that was accredited or seeking accreditation by ACICS, this Questions and Answers (Q&A) page was created for you to help you navigate your options.

The Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR) can help you address any questions you may have regarding your situation. Please direct any questions for the OSAR to 1 (888) 370-7589, option #5 or email us at osar@dca.ca.gov. Due to the expected increase in call volume, please leave a voice message, including your name, phone number, and email address and our staff will respond within 48 business hours.

Accreditation is a voluntary independent verification process that institutions of higher education undergo to validate the quality of their educational programs based on standards set by the members of an accrediting body. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality and that they are in compliance with rigorous standards. Accreditation is important because it helps students determine if an institution is worthwhile for their enrollment, helps prospective employers determine the validity of degrees earned from schools, and may assist other institutions in determining acceptability of transfer credits. In order for students to receive federal financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education, the institution must be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education meet strict criteria and are placed on the Department's List of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies.

The federal recognition of ACICS as an accrediting body by the U.S. Department of Education has been withdrawn as of June 2, 2021. ACICS has appealed this decision made by the Senior Department Official (SDO) at the U.S. Department of Education on July 5, 2021.

Schools that were seeking accreditation or formerly accredited by ACICS must either seek reapproval by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) to continue to operate in California and/or seek reaccreditation with a different federally recognized accrediting agency in order to continue offering degree programs.

Your next options as a student will depend on the status of your school and on your personal educational goals. Here are a few common options to explore:

Continue Your Education
If your school reestablishes approval with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) and/or obtains accreditation with another federally recognized accrediting body, you may have the option to continue your education at your current institution.

Consider Transfer Options
You may also decide to transfer to another school using some or all the credits that you’ve earned at your former school. When looking for transfer options, you should research and explore all aspects of the schools you are considering when making a decision including, but not limited to, the school’s accreditation status, program quality, faculty qualifications, the campus and its facilities, what student services are offered, class schedule flexibility, mode of instruction, location, tuition and financial aid programs, etc. For more information, please visit our Researching Colleges page. 

Apply for Financial Relief Options
There are a variety of financial relief options available for students who have suffered an economic loss due to the closure of a private college. If the credits you’ve earned from your school have no value for transfer or you simply wish to start over and request for a full refund of your economic losses, you may be eligible for relief from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund. Specific questions regarding federal student loan relief must be directed to your loan servicer. If you do not know who your loan servicer is, you may contact Federal Student Aid at (800) 433-3243 or visit their website for more information.

Students can stay up-to date on the latest news regarding ACICS by monitoring the U.S. Department of Education’s press releases, visiting the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education’s website, or by visiting the ACICS website directly. Students may also email us directly for more information at osar@dca.ca.gov.

The Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR) is available to assist you with any additional questions that you may have that was not covered in this Q&A. You may schedule an appointment with an analyst to further discuss your options at 1 (888) 370-7589, option #5 or email us at osar@dca.ca.gov.


Students are encouraged to monitor OSAR’s website along with its Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages regularly for up-to-date information on the resources available to students following their school’s closure.