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What Does Accredited College Mean

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by Aaron Profitt | Jul 24, 2017 | Accreditation & Degrees

Accreditation gives college students an important way of telling if a college is real or a scam. But accreditation can be tough to understand!

This article answers three questions about accreditation.

  • What does college accreditation mean?
  • Who does college accreditation?
  • Why does accreditation matter?
  • What Happens If My College Loses Accreditation

    The loss of accreditation indicates that a school no longer meets accrediting standards for one reason or another. It impacts the credibility of an institution, often causing enrollment to decline and leading to a school’s closure.

    Students attending a college or university that loses accreditation can potentially transfer to a different institution, but the loss of accreditation does not provide any recourse for a tuition refund or loan forgiveness. For alumni of a school that loses accreditation, there are no direct consequences. Loss of accreditation does not negate a graduate’s existing degrees or certificates.

    What Is The Importance Of Accreditation

    The importance of accreditation is that it creates a set of quality standards for all education institutions or programs, provides access to federal and state funding, maintains private sector confidence, and makes transferring credits easier. Furthermore, accreditation aims to ensure accountability of schools and degree programs which boosts public trust and confidence. When an institution or degree program is properly accredited, you are able to gauge its overall quality without having to conduct a detailed analysis on your own.

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    The Effects Of Accreditation After Graduation

    College accreditation doesnt just affect students as they pursue a degree. It can have far-reaching implications that extend well beyond graduation. Students who graduate from unaccredited schools may spend thousands of dollars on a degree that offers little value. They may not be well-qualified to enter the working world.;

    SNU is zealously committed to its students. We offer a top-notch education while treating enrollees as whole people. We aim to help you uncover new passions, cultivate new skills, and leave school prepared for a fulfilling life that enriches the world around you. We are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. We welcome questions about our standards and programs because we believe every entrant deserves the best possible academic preparation. Contact us to learn more about our unique and diverse learning options.

    Financial Aid & Accreditation

    What Does a College

    Federal financial aid such as grants and federally-backed student loans are only available if you go to an institution accredited by an organization recognized by the US Department of Education. But both nationally and regionally accredited schools qualify. This is one area where there is essentially no difference in the availability of financial aid.

    Each school may also offer students some type of discount, grant, or scholarship, so as you are considering the affordability of programs, remember that many schools, especially public and private non-profit colleges and universities, can offer very good financial aid packages to students who need assistance. Dont discount a more expensive school you like until you speak find out about possible financial aid. It is often at least worth it to put in an application for financial aid, which starts by filling out a FAFSA, and then see what other resources may help you pay for your education.

    CONSUMER ALERT: Rising costs of education have resulted in many students taking out very high dollar amounts in student loans. It can be difficult to repay loans after completing a program, but especially if you dont complete the degree or program you have started. If you do take out student loans as part of your financial plan to attend school, consider the type of loan carefully.

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    How Are Colleges Accredited

    Educational institutions are either regionally or nationally accredited. Accreditation is a voluntary process that ensures a college, university, or degree program meets a universal standard for quality. This gives an institution and its graduates credibility with other;institutions and employers. Institutional accreditation is different from programmatic accreditation which is covered below.

    Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs. However, the USDOE and the non-profit Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee the accreditation process. They review the federally-recognized agencies that set accreditation standards.

    Whether or not an institution offers degree programs online, on campus, or both, is irrelevant when it comes to accreditation.;They answer to the same governing organizations that ensure students receive a quality education.

    Are You Ready To Discover Your College Program

    Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to factors like faculty qualifications, academic rigor, and student learning outcomes.

    It is important to attend an accredited college or university. Accredited institutions can help expand your employment prospects, financial aid options, and continuing education opportunities. Unaccredited schools, by contrast, are often considered disreputable by employers and other institutions of higher learning.

    There are several types of accreditation, each with distinct purposes, processes, and outcomes. This guide covers important information about accreditation, including types of accreditation, the accreditation process, and answers to frequently asked questions.

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    History And Context Of Accreditation In The United States

    In the United States, institutions of higher education are permitted to operate with considerable independence and autonomy. The United States has no Ministry of Education or other centralized federal authority exercising control over the quality of postsecondary educational institutions, and the states assume varying degrees of control over education. As a consequence, American educational institutions can vary widely in the character and quality of their programs. To ensure a basic level of quality, the practice of accreditation arose in the United States as a means of conducting nongovernmental, peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs. With the passage of the HEA in 1965, Congress expanded agencies role by entrusting them with ensuring academic quality of the educational institutions at which federal student aid funds may be used subject to oversight by the federal government through the recognition process. Private educational associations have adopted criteria intended to reflect the qualities of a sound educational program and have developed procedures for evaluating institutions or programs to determine whether or not they are operating at basic levels of quality. Although agencies promulgate standards to ensure institutional quality,agencies have no legal control over educational institutions or programs.

    Some Important Functions of Accreditation

  • Assess the quality of academic programs at institutions of higher education
  • Types of Accreditation

    How Does Accreditation Affect A Students Education

    What Does Accreditation Mean?

    Accreditation affects every aspect of a students college experience. It verifies that the school offers quality coursework taught by skilled instructors who hold students to reasonable standards. Choosing a regionally accredited school means that:;

    • An independent accrediting body has investigated the school and its programs and has found that students get a quality education.;
    • The instructors at the school are well-qualified to teach.;
    • The school has established consistent and fair procedures and policies to provide excellent education.;
    • Employers are likely to hire applicants who graduate from this school.;
    • Other schools respect this school and will probably accept all or most of a students transfer credits.;
    • A student will be eligible for student loans and other forms of financial assistance.;
    • The school is compliant with laws that prevent discrimination and other forms of abuse.;
    • The student will graduate with a specific body of knowledge. The course offerings at an unaccredited school may be inconsistent and vary greatly in quality.;

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    Affordability: One Major Factor

    Cost can be an important deciding factor. If better means more affordable, then nationally accredited online universities are often the winners.

    According to;GetEducated.coms Online MBA Rankings, the average cost of a regionally accredited online MBA is $25,869. On the other hand, the average cost for a nationally accredited online MBA is only $12,700.

    Thats a savings of about $8,000.

    In addition, Get Educateds surveys of online universities indicate that regionally accredited colleges often employ stricter admissions requirements, including higher entrance GPAs. They also are more likely to require standardized admission exams, such as the SAT, GRE or GMAT.

    Although nationally accredited schools are cheaper on average, if you later change your plans and want to transfer to a different school or program, you will have far fewer choices that will allow you to transfer credits you have already earned. If you end up repeating classes, you will actually pay more in the long run. If you are fairly sure you will not want to get another degree later, then a nationally accredited school can offer you a great cost savings.

    Dont entirely discount regionally accredited schools if your budget is tight. There are many very affordable programs, especially from community colleges, public universities, and through distance education that can give you an education that is more accepted by schools you may want to transfer into or by employers looking for qualified job applicants.

    What Is Regional Institutional Accreditation

    Regional accreditation agencies oversee;institutions that place a focus on academics that are state-owned or non-profit colleges or universities. There are six regional;accrediting agencies for higher education institutions in the U.S. These agencies oversee;institutions within their particular clusters of states.

    The six agencies are:

    • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
    • NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, Washington D.C.
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • AK, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • AR, AZ, CO, IO, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, OK, NM, SD, WI, WV, WY
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, AL, TN, TX, VA
  • U.S. students in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • CA, HI
  • The Hawaiian territories of Guam, American Samoa, Northern Marianas Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, the Pacific Rim, East Asia, and parts of the Pacific and East Asia
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    Transferring Credits Between Schools With Different Accreditation

    One of the biggest differences between national and regional accreditation is in how easily student credits transfer. According to a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 38% of students will transfer to another school at some point within six years of beginning post-secondary education. It is important to consider whether or not the credits will transfer.

    Regionally accredited schools will often only accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited schools. With the majority of institutions of higher education having regional accreditation, it is likely that if you transfer to another school later for more education, it will be a regionally accredited institution. If you have credits from a nationally accredited school, it is almost certain that they will not transfer.

    However, if the first school you go to has regional accreditation, it is likely that some or all of your credits would transfer to either a regionally or nationally accredited program. If you are transferring from one nationally accredited program to another, you credits would also likely transfer.

    Here is a quick guide to transferring credits. These credits are likely to transfer:

    • Regionally Accredited to Regionally Accredited
    • Regionally Accredited to Nationally Accredited
    • Nationally Accredited to Nationally Accredited

    These credits almost never will transfer:

    • Nationally Accredited to Regionally Accredited

    Beware Of Fake College Accreditation: Diploma Mills And Accreditation Mills

    What Does Accreditation Mean to You?

    You should also know how to recognize and avoid Diploma Mills and Accreditation Mills, which can be harmful to your educational journey and make it difficult for you to reach your career goals. Sadly, dishonest institutions and fake accrediting agencies exist to defraud students of their money and lead them to believe theyre getting something theyre not. These organizations work hard to hide that they arent affiliated with the verified accrediting agencies. Fortunately, spotting bad accrediting agencies and schools is easy if you know what to look for.

    How do you know if a college is genuinely accredited?

    First off, the U.S. Department of Education lists the accrediting agencies it certifies on its website. By visiting the site, you can browse regional and national institutional accrediting agencies, specialized accrediting agencies, and accrediting agencies recognized for Title IV purposes. If youre seeking a degree program from an accredited institution you should only consider schools that are accredited by one of the agencies listed on the U.S. Department of Education website. If a school claims to have national accreditation or regional accreditation from somewhere else, the accreditation status might be unrecognized, and thus not worth considering.

    What constitutes a diploma mill?

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    How Does A Colleges Unaccredited Status Affect Its Students

    When a college chooses not to be accredited, it gains some freedom and independence from outside oversight or rules. This means it can create nontraditional options for students that might not be acceptable in accredited colleges, so students may find opportunities they like at unaccredited colleges.

    There are also some drawbacks to unaccredited colleges.

  • Its harder to transfer credits to an accredited college.
  • Its harder to get into graduate or professional school.
  • Employers may not want to hire you with a degree from an unaccredited college.
  • Students at unaccredited colleges generally cannot get federal or state financial aid. They may also not be able to use scholarships or tuition help from employers, community organizations, etc.
  • The education provided may lack quality. A key purpose of accreditation is to assure quality, and unaccredited colleges dont have that assurance.
  • Some students spend money and time to earn a degree from an unaccredited college, then find that they cannot go to graduate school, transfer to another college or get the jobs they want. Be informed before you make that choice, so that you dont eliminate options for your future!

    How To Find Accredited Colleges In The Us

    Checking the accreditation of colleges and universities in America is easy. Officials at the college will not hesitate to tell prospective students that the school is accredited. Also, college literature often will mention whether or not it is accredited.In addition, the US Department of Education offers a database of accredited colleges in the US.

    Attending an accredited college is an important part of receiving a quality education in the US. If you understand what accreditation means, you are more likely to meet your career goals and choose a college thats right for you

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    How To Check If Your School Is Accredited:

    The problem is that accreditation is given by private agencies, meaning that is easy for any organization to offer accreditation, when in reality they may not be the best to do so. Because of this, many students get worried about their college accreditation, and if it should or not be trusted. For you to know if your school is accredited visit either the Department of Education website, they offer a full list of accredited schools and their accredited programs, or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation webpage. The latter is the agency that selects which agencies can be consider accreditation agencies and gives them permission to accredit institutions.

    Use College Raptors free match tool to discover individualized college matches, personalized price estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid from schools around the country!

    Institutional Accreditation: What Is It

    What does losing accreditation mean?

    Both regional and national accreditation are ways of confirming that a whole institutionlike a university, college, community college, or trade schoolis offering quality education to its students. This is a quality assurance system that schools voluntarily engage in to have an outside organization investigate their programs and policies to ensure that students will receive valuable and useful education.

    Accreditation helps members of the public avoid scams like diploma mills or subpar instructional programs. If a school you are considering is not institutionally accredited, that is a serious red flag.

    The older, more established, and more respected type of institutional accreditation is regional accreditation. Public and nonprofit private schools are almost all regionally accredited, while trade, career, and for-profit schools are usually nationally accredited. It might sound like national accreditation would be more prestigious, but actually, the opposite is true. The standards for national accreditation are less rigorous than regional accreditation, and national accreditation is considerably less useful when transferring schools.

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    More About The Accreditation Process

    For a school or program, the accreditation process is often lengthy and costly, but when so much is at stake, the recognition is well worth the investment in time and money.

    Hoey explains that, in a way, the accreditation process allows the education sector to self-police, meaning that much of the work is done by other educators and administrators. Hoey not only serves as a vice provost for academics at National, but hes also served as a peer reviewer for decades. This means he has first-hand experience of both going through the accreditation process as a school, and in reviewing accreditation materials and criteria for other peer institutions.

    We volunteer our time to read and evaluate institutional documents against a set of criteria, he explains, adding this process often also entails gathering qualitative data visiting a campus and talking to a schools students, faculty and staff members, the board of trustees, and alumni. This gives us a holistic picture of where the institution is, Hoey says. We then report back to the accreditation agency and render a collective professional judgment on whether the school upholds .

    Once a school is accredited, it must work to maintain that status. In fact, many larger institutions have a position dedicated to compliance; the person in this role continually monitors the important metrics and keeps track of changing industry standards and government policies.

    What Is Accreditation In The Us

    Accredited colleges in the US meet standards established by private agencies. This system is different from many other educational systems because the US government is not involved in the accreditation process.The goal of accreditation is to ensure that a colleges programs meet a certain minimum standard.The US Department of Education is not responsible for accreditation. Instead, this responsibility rests with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.Each state approves which colleges can operate within its borders. But dont be fooled. Approval does not mean the college is accredited. It means that the college can operate as a business in that state.Accredited colleges in the US meet the standards of a recognized reviewing agency. Accrediting agencies are private educational associations recognized by the government.These agencies develop criteria and conduct evaluations to determine if a particular college meets the required standards. Schools that meet the standards are considered accredited colleges in the US.

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