Acting Ranking Member Takano: VA Secretary Must Use Authority to Protect Student Veterans from ACICS Fallout

Washington, D.C. – Today, Acting Ranking Member Mark Takano (D-Calif.) was joined by six Democrats in calling on Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald to protect student veterans affected by a decision to revoke recognition from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), a popular accreditor of for-profit schools. The Department of Education finalized on Monday its decision to strip ACICS’s authority as a school accreditor based on the organization’s long record of lax oversight and poor outcomes.

Student veterans attending an ACICS-accredited school faced the prospect of immediately losing access to their education and housing benefits, but Congress passed a law in September granting the VA Secretary authority to extend GI Bill eligibility to unaccredited programs for up to 18 months. Roughly 15,000 student veterans could be affected by the decision to revoke recognition from ACICS. A letter sent to Secretary McDonald today urged him to act promptly on their behalf.

“This new authority is intended to give student veterans enough time to either complete their education or transfer to another program of education that will provide them the quality education they deserve,” the group wrote. “Perhaps most importantly, extending access to the Post-9/11 GI Bill will allow student veterans to continue to receive their housing benefit, ensuring that they will not become homeless while completing their education or exploring options to transfer.”

The letter also calls on the VA to fulfill its responsibility to notify affected students and inform them of their options. Students currently attending an ACICS-accredited school should visit www.ed.gov/acics for information and guidance.

The six Democratic cosigners are: Reps. Castro, Gabbard, Levin, Lowenthal, McCollum, and Vargas.