The Commission is under no obligation to consider or accept for processing any application for initial accreditation it receives. The Commission establishes eligibility criteria it deems appropriate and may choose not to consider or accept for processing an application for initial accreditation for any reason to include, but not limited to, prior or pending legal actions and investigation(s) by a law enforcement or administrative body; prior or pending administrative actions by an oversight entity; prior accreditation actions and any adverse accreditation decision; a lack of financial soundness; or the background of a school’s owner(s), governors, board members, or administrators.

A main school must be a freestanding institution that is a legally established public or private entity (e.g., as a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, publicly owned, etc.) and reported as such to the appropriate, necessary, and applicable state and federal agencies and other accrediting agencies. A main school may establish separate facilities (i.e., branch or satellite location) in accordance with the Standards of Accreditation

A school must describe itself and be recognized consistently by each accrediting agency, state agency, and federal agency with regard to identity (i.e., main school, branch, or equivalent), purpose, governance, programs, credentials awarded, personnel, finances, and constituents served, and must keep each agency apprised of any change in its status. 

 A school must be in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local government requirements. In cases where accrediting standards and federal or state government requirements differ, the more stringent will apply. If conflicts exist between federal or state requirements and accreditation standards, the federal or state requirements will take precedence. 

Only postsecondary career schools and colleges with trade, occupational or technical educational objectives are eligible for accreditation with ACCSC. ACCSC may decline to consider for accreditation otherwise eligible schools if it determines that the programs offered by an applicant school fall outside of the Commission’s primary scope and competence or there is a lack of standards necessary for meaningful review. Please note that schools primarily directed toward avocational or general education objectives are ineligible for accreditation with ACCSC.

The school and its programs must fall within the Commission’s Scope and meet Educational Objectives.

The school’s primary educational objective must be to prepare students for entrance or advancement in one or more occupations requiring manual, manipulative or technical competence or skills. Training, which is job oriented, must provide graduates with the necessary competencies for employment in their occupational field. 

The school must offer, at a minimum, at least one program that is 300 clock hours or longer in length. 

The school must have all necessary authorizations from the state(s) in which it operates and be in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal requirements. Schools under investigation or sanction by a local, state, or federal agency may be deemed ineligible to apply for initial accreditation with ACCSC. 

At the time of initial application, the school may not be subject to a pending or final action (including appeals) taken by a state agency or another accrediting agency to suspend, deny, or withdraw/revoke approval/accreditation within the preceding 12-month period or subject to a Warning, Probation, Show Cause Order.

In order to be eligible for initial accreditation, at the time of application, the school must demonstrate continuous operation  for the preceding two consecutive years and must demonstrate an ability to operate continuously thereafter. 

At the time of application, a school must demonstrate to the Commission that it graduated students from its longest program(s) offered during that two‐year period. If a school has two programs of equal length, and each program is the longest program offered at the institution, then the school must have graduated a student from both programs. Prior to a grant of initial accreditation, the school must be able to provide student achievement outcomes for its programs prepared in accordance with the Commission’s student achievement reporting requirements.

At the time of initial application, the school must be financially sound with sufficient resources for its proper operation and discharge of its obligations to students. The school must demonstrate two years of operating history through the submission of financial statements that are both prepared in accordance with the Instructions for the Preparation and Submission of Financial Statements and Related Information and show that the school has met the financial tests for initial applicants included in those instructions. 

Financial statements submitted to the Commission must be prepared in accordance with ACCSC’s Instructions for the Submission of Financial Statements and Related Information. The statements must be audited, must be prepared on the accrual basis of accounting by an independent certified public accountant licensed by the state to perform such services, and must be presented using a comparative format. The format of the financial statements must comply with generally accepted accounting principles, and the financial statements must show that the school has sufficient resources for the proper operation of the school and discharge of obligations to students. ACCSC will look at several factors in a school’s audited financial statements to determine an applicant’s overall financial soundness (e.g., working capital, cash reserves, etc.). However, at a minimum, ACCSC will not process a school’s Application for Initial Accreditation if the school’s audited financial statements show any of the following: 

  •  Net loss for the two most recent fiscal years; 
  •  Negative net worth for the two most recent fiscal years; or 
  •  Negative cash flow from operations for the most recent fiscal year. 

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