The sudden or unexpected closing of an accredited campus creates risk and anxiety for students who have undertaken their studies with the reasonable expectation that the institution will be accessible through the completion of their diploma, certificate or degree program. ACICS offers resources to help empower students who have been notified about the potential or imminent closure of their campus. This guidance is derived from ACICS’s authority over the institutions before, during and after the closure of a campus, including the following standards published in the ACICS Criteria:
- The licensing and accrediting agencies that have reviewed and approved their school (Section 1-2-100 (b) and Appendix C)
- The school’s refund policy (Section 3-1-433)
- The school’s grievance policies, including how to appeal academic decisions and how to file a formal complaint
(Appendix C) and (Section 3-1-202)
- The school’s Transfer of Credit policy (Section 3-1-413)
Students facing the potential and imminent closure of the campus where they are enrolled should consider and take advantage of the following resources:
- Students who are seeking to transfer to another accredited institution in order to complete their credential: Contact the campus director and request written confirmation of under what terms and conditions their credits will be acceptable at the receiving institution, which credits will be accepted and what tuition and fees will be charged by the receiving institution.
- Students who are participating in a “teach-out” of current program at their current campus: Contact your campus director for information about which institution will be providing the instruction that enables the student to fulfill the requirements for the credential they have been working toward, including the institution’s accreditation and its authority to provide instruction in the program related to that specific credential (diploma, certificate or degree).
- Students seeking refunds: For students who are unable to complete their education at the current campus in which they enrolled because of campus closure, the institution is required to provide a refund for the tuition and fees paid to date. Contact the campus director and request information about the application process for refunds and the interval for receiving full payment. In addition, in certain states students and colleges have paid into a state-based tuition recovery fund that can help mitigate some of the financial displacement derived from a campus closure. Contact your state approval authority to see if you qualify for such relief in your state. The lists of state recovery funds are also available at: Student Loan Borrowers Assistance or the National Association of State Administrators and Supervisors of Private Schools (NASASPS).
- Students seeking discharge of their loans: Students who are not able to complete their education due to a campus closure may be eligible in certain circumstances for amnesty from paying back their federal student loans. For more information about how to apply for loan amnesty, contact the Regional Title IV Office for your state.
- Student transcripts and financial aid records: The closing campus is required to provide for the safe keeping of all student academic records (transcripts) and student financial aid records, and to convey those in a secure manner to students or the institutions they designate upon request. In addition, state law in many jurisdictions reiterates the legal requirement for campuses to preserve and convey student records, and prescribes where the records must be stored and for how long. Contact your campus representative or your state approval authority to clarify how and when you will have access to your records now and in the future.
- Information for students: ACICS requires institutions to communicate directly with students on all of these matters and others as frequently and as intensely as necessary. Failure to do so subjects the campus to potential revocation of accreditation, loss of eligibility to participate in federal student financial aid programs, and the principles’ loss of eligibility to own or manager accredited career colleges in the future.