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Guide to College Accreditation, Part 3


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Accreditation ensures that an institution has met certain standards that identify it as a quality choice for prospective students. When deciding on a school, the accreditation process helps students narrow down the possibilities.

The credits earned at an accredited organization are worth much more to furthering one’s education and entering the professional world. Some professional fields are closed to students with unaccredited credit hours and institutions of higher learning will often not accept or transfer unaccredited credit hours.

Currently in the United States there are over 16,000 accredited institutions and programs. All of which have received accreditation from a regional, national or programmatic accreditor. There are currently eight regional, 11 national and 69 programmatic accreditors.

(For a list of accreditors, click Here.)
CHEA USDE Accreditation

The accreditation process is beneficial to schools as well. It consistently sets a higher standard that stimulates improvement and challenges institutions. The process also helps keep courses up-to-date. It also ensures that teachers and professors have received the necessary licensure and certification necessary to prepare knowledge and teach specific courses. 

To continue their accreditation, schools must maintain the standards of their accrediting organization. All accreditors set standards that are based around an institution’s faculty, student support, finances, curriculum and learning results. Once an institution has been accredited, they will be subject to review every three to 10 years.

The number one motivator for institutions to get accredited is funding.  Accreditation opens the doors for both the institution and its students to receive financial support from either the state or government. Only institutions accredited by agencies recognized by the USDE are eligible for government funding and only their students can apply for financial aid. Included in the USDE’s standards for a recognized accreditor is the promise that all organizations must comply with Title IV, student financial aid assistance.

Students who wish to receive government loans or grants need to attend an USDE accredited institution. In addition to the government and state, employers will often not provide tuition assistance for an education received at an unaccredited university.

Accrediting Heirarchy Tree