| Purpose and Importance | Committee Background | Governance & Functions |
| Charter | Meetings | NACIQI Meeting Procedures |
Recognition Review Process | Committee Initiatives |
| Members | Glossary | FAQs |
| 2014 Accreditation Policy Initiative | Contact Information |
| NACIQI 2012 Policy Report |
The Committee advises the Secretary of Education on matters related to postsecondary (or higher education) accreditation and the eligibility and certification process for higher education institutions to participate in the Federal student aid programs. Its primary function is to provide recommendations to the Secretary concerning whether accrediting entities’ standards are sufficiently rigorous and effective in their application to ensure that the entity is a reliable authority regarding the quality of the education or training provided by the institutions or programs it accredits. To meet that high standard, accrediting entities must demonstrate compliance with all the criteria for recognition. (See below for more information about the criteria for recognition.) If an accrediting entity is then recognized by the Secretary, then the postsecondary institutions it accredits may apply to participate in the Federal student aid programs. The Committee’s recommendations help ensure that the students who enroll in those institutions, and who receive an estimated $158 billion in Federal student aid annually, are attending quality postsecondary institutions.
The Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952 (Section 253), established the authority for the recognition of accrediting agencies and state approval agencies. Since that time, the Secretary of Education, formerly the Commissioner of Education within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, has published a list of recognized accrediting agencies and state approval agencies that the Secretary determines to be reliable authorities on the quality of education and training provided by the institutions and programs they accredit.
With the passage of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in 1965, Congress established the National Advisory Committee on Accreditation and Institutional Eligibility (NACAIE). The purpose of the NACAIE was to advise the then Commissioner of Education on current and future policies related to the recognition of accrediting agencies and to determine institutional eligibility for participation of education institutions in Federal assistance programs. The 15-member committee, appointed by the Commissioner, first met in September 1968.
With the 1992 amendments to the HEA, Congress established the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Improvement to replace the NACAIE. The NACIQI first met in 1994 and reviewed accrediting agencies based on established criteria. Later, the 1998 amendments to the HEA changed the Committee’s name from Improvement to Integrity. Ten years later in 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) amended the HEA again by altering the accreditation agencies’ recognition process and the structure of the NACIQI.
Governance and Functions
The NACIQI operates in accordance with Section 114 of the HEA, as amended most recently by Section 106 of the HEOA in August 2008. The statute specifies that NACIQI provides recommendations to the Secretary of Education regarding:
- The establishment and enforcement of criteria for recognition of accrediting agencies or associations under Subpart 2 of Part H, Title IV, of the HEA.
- The recognition of specific accrediting agencies or associations or a specific State approval agency.
- The preparation and publication of the list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies and associations.
- The eligibility and certification process for institutions of higher education under Title IV, of the HEA.
- The relationship between (1) accreditation of institutions of higher education and the certification and eligibility of such institutions, and (2) state licensing responsibilities with respect to such institutions.
- Any other advisory functions relating to accreditation and institutional eligibility that the Secretary may prescribe.
The Committee also complies with all requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and Government in the Sunshine Act. Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 602 contains regulations governing the NACIQI and the recognition process, including the criteria for recognition. In accordance with the FACA, the Committee’s Charter stipulates its authority, functions, and operating procedures, among other items.
Final staff reports are available to the public at: http://opeweb.ed.gov/aslweb/ Click on the “Public Documents” button. The reports are filed by committee and meeting date.
Spring 2014 Meeting
- December 12-13, 2013 - Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, 415 New Jersey Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20001
- Report of the Meeting: MS Word (165K) | PDF (253K)
- Federal Register Notice: Third-Party Written and Oral Comments
- Federal Register Notice: Meeting Notice
- Federal Register Notice: Agenda Revision
- Meeting Agenda: MS Word (113K) | PDF (135K)
December 12, 2013: MS Word (536K) | PDF (876K)
December 13, 2013: MS Word (219K) | PDF (426K)
- June 6-7, 2013 - Hyatt Arlington Hotel, 1325 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209
- Report of the Meeting: MS Word (118K) | PDF (153K)
- Federal Register Notice: Third-Party Written and Oral Comments
- Federal Register Notice: Meeting Notice
- Meeting Agenda: MS Word (114K) | PDF (129K)
- Remarks to NACIQI by Dr. Martha Kanter, Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education : PDF (256K)
June 6, 2013: MS Word (361K) | PDF (632K)
June 7, 2013: MS Word (231K) | PDF (408K)
- December 11-12, 2012 - Washington Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Road, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008
- Report of the Meeting: MS Word (181K) | PDF (262K)
- Federal Register Notice: Third-Party Written and Oral Comments
- Federal Register Notice: Meeting Notice
- Meeting Agenda: MS Word (105K) | PDF (224K)
December 11, 2012: MS Word (252K) | PDF (463K)
December 12, 2012: MS Word (303K) | PDF (546K)
- June 25-26, 2012 - Westin Alexandria, 400 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314
- Report of the Meeting: MS Word (247K) | PDF (292K)
- Federal Register Notice: Third-Party Written and Oral Comments and Meeting Notice
- NACIQI Site Team Report: National Intelligence University -- MS Word (60K) | PDF (204K)
- Meeting Agenda: MS Word (117K) | PDF (192K)
- NACIQI Report of the Meeting: MS Word (928K) | PDF (241K)
- NACIQI Report: Accreditation Policy Recommendations for HEA Reauthorization: MS Word (608K) | PDF (472K), Transmittal Letter: MS Word (57K)
- Written Comments: MS Word (2.83MB) | PDF (1.11MB)
- Anticipated Motion to Amend the Report with proposed Amended Language: MS Word (49K)
- Draft Final Report of Recommendations: MS Word (62K) | PDF (189K)
- Agenda: MS Word (79K)
- Federal Register Notice
Fall 2013 Meeting
Spring 2013 Meeting
Fall 2012 Meeting
Spring 2012 Meeting
Teleconference Meeting to adopt NACIQI Report of Accreditation Policy Recommendations - April 13, 2012
2011 MeetingsFall 2011 Meeting
- December 14-16, 2011 - Crowne Plaza Old Town Alexandria, Washington Ballroom, 901 North Fairfax, Alexandria, VA 22314
- Report of the Meeting: MS Word (213K) | PDF (341K)
- December 14, 2011: MS Word (422K) | PDF (765K)
- December 15, 2011: MS Word (435K) | PDF (760K)
- December 16, 2011: MS Word (242K) | PDF (446K)
- Meeting Agenda: MS Word (125K) | PDF (107K)
- Draft Report on the Reauthorization of the HEA: MS Word (60K) | PDF (103K)
- Public Comments on the Draft Report on Reauthorization of the HEA
- Federal Register Notices
- Meeting notice and call for written comments concerning agencies scheduled for review
- Call for oral comments concerning agencies scheduled for review
- Opportunities for the public to make written comments and/or oral comments concerning the NACIQI’s report on the reauthorization of the HEA.
- Final Staff Reports: PDF (1.15Mb)
Spring 2011 Meeting
- June 8-10, 2011 - Holiday Inn and Suites, Commonwealth Ballroom, 625 First Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
- Report of the Meeting: MS Word (1.34Mb) | PDF (1.04MB)
- June 8, 2011: MS Word (304K) | PDF (471K)
- June 9, 2011: MS Word (469K) | PDF (751K)
- June 10, 2011: MS Word (307K) | PDF (472K)
- APA Letter: PDF (62K)
- Meeting Agenda: PDF (66K)
- Federal Register Notices
- Call for Written Comments and Meeting Notice
- Call for Oral Comments and Meeting Notice
- Opportunities for the public to make written comments and/or oral comments concerning the NACIQI's report on the reauthorization of the HEA.
- Final Staff Reports: PDF (1.34MB)
Reauthorization Policy Documents
- Issue 1: Regulatory Burden and Data Needs
- Issue 2: The "Triad"
- Issue 3: Accreditor Scope, Alignment, and Accountability
February 2011 Accreditation Policy Forum
- February 3-4,2011 - Holiday Inn and Suites, Commonwealth Ballroom, 625 First Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
- Report of the Meeting
- Meeting Agenda: PDF (24K)
- Federal Register Notice: notice of open meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), procedures for submitting third-party written comments, and procedures for making third-party oral comments at the meeting. PDF
Fall 2010 Meeting
- December 1-3, 2010 - 1990 K Street, N.W., 8th Floor Conference Center, Washington, D.C. 20006
- Report of the Meeting: MS Word (191K) | PDF (140K)
- Meeting Agenda: MS Word (86K) | PDF (65K)
- Federal Register Notices
Teleconference Meeting to Elect a Chair and Vice-Chair - November 8, 2010
- Report of the Meeting: MS Word (76K) | PDF (44K)
- Meeting Agenda: PDF (112K)
- Federal Register Notice
NACIQI Meeting ProceduresThe order of discussion for each agency at a NACIQI meeting is as follows:
- introduction of agency by NACIQI member;
- presentation by the Department of Education staff analyst who prepared the staff analysis;
- questions of the staff analyst by Committee members, starting with the assigned readers;
- comments by agency representatives;
- questions of agency representatives by Committee members, starting with the assigned readers;
- presentations by third-party commenters who submitted requests in advance and then by commenters who submitted requests on the meeting day and were selected to speak,
- questions of third-party commenters by Committee members, starting with the assigned readers;
- agency comments on third-party presentations (with any follow-up questions by Committee);
- staff comments on agency or third-party presentations (with any follow-up questions by Committee); and
- discussion and vote by Committee members.
Recognition Review Process
The types of reviews the NACIQI considers as part of the recognition process include:
- Initial Recognition;
- Renewal of Recognition;
- Compliance Reports (formerly called Interim Reports);
- Request for an Expansion or Contraction of Scope outside the regular review schedule;
- Progress Reports;
- Informational Reports; and
- Reports of Significant Enrollment Growth.
A recognition decision is made by the Senior Department Official (the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education) within 90 days of the NACIQI meeting. It is based on the following items:
- Material provided to NACIQI;
- Transcript of NACIQI meeting;
- NACIQI recommendation;
- Staff recommendation;
- Third party comments and responses; and
- Other information/evidence allowed under certain conditions.
See http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg3.html#Recognition for a detailed description of the recognition review process.
In September 2010, the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan charged the NACIQI with providing advice on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Following due consideration--including two public hearings, written comment, and extensive discussion--the NACIQI will deliberate on the draft report for the Secretary at the December 2011 NACIQI meeting. MS Word (60K) | PDF (103K)
In developing the draft report, NACIQI considered a diverse range of topics, including points from federal and state actors, from accreditors, from beneficiaries of quality in higher education, and from accredited institutions, including perspectives in education, policy, business, government, and beyond. The Committee agreed to focus on three main areas – the triad of actors in educational quality assurance; the scope, alignment, and accountability of accreditation activity; and regulatory burden and data needs. See Fall 2011 Meeting for more information.
The NACIQI is composed of 18 members with six-year membership terms (except for the terms of the Committee’s initial members).
Per the HEOA, individuals are appointed as NACIQI members –
- On the basis of the individuals’ experience, integrity, impartiality, and good judgment;
- From among individuals who are representatives of, or knowledgeable concerning, education and training beyond secondary education, representing all sectors and types of institutions of higher education (as defined in section 201 of the HEA), as well as a student representative; and
- On the basis of the individuals’ technical qualifications, professional standing, and demonstrated knowledge in the fields of accreditation and administration in higher education.
Members are appointed equally by the Secretary, House of Representatives, and the Senate as follows:
- Secretary - six appointees with three-year initial terms, including the student member;
- House of Representatives – six appointees by the Speaker of the House with four-year initial terms; three of whom shall be recommended by the majority leader of the House and three of whom shall be recommended by the minority leader of the House; and
- Senate – six appointees by the President pro tempore with six-year initial terms; three of whom shall be recommended by the majority leader of the Senate and three of whom shall be recommended by the minority leader of the Senate.
A vacancy on the Committee is filled in the same manner as the original appointment was made not later than 90 days after the date the vacancy occurs. The HEOA requires the Secretary to publish a Federal Register notice to solicit nominations for any of his/her vacancies. Also, the members of the Committee now select the Committee Chairperson (and Vice-Chair). The Committee decided at the Spring 2011 that the Chair and Vice-Chair would serve a three year-term.
List of Members (includes Nomination Source)
Susan D. Phillips, Ph.D., Chair (Education Department)
Susan D. Phillips is the Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at the State University of New York at Albany. A recognized scholar of vocational psychology and career development, she has also worked in accreditation and educational quality assurance for the Regents of the State of New York and for professional psychology. She holds degrees from Stanford University (BA, Human Biology), Teachers College (MA, Psychology), and Columbia University (MPhil and PhD, Counseling Psychology).
Arthur E. Keiser, Ph.D., Vice Chair (House Republicans)
Arthur E. Keiser is the Chancellor of the Keiser Collegiate System which includes Keiser University, Keiser Career College, and Southeastern Institute. Dr. Keiser was appointed by the Governor of Florida to the State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities and the State Board of Independent Postsecondary, Vocational, Technical, Trade and Business Schools. He earned his doctorate degree in Higher Education Administration at the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati Ohio.
William Armstrong (Senate Republicans)
William Armstrong is the President of Colorado Christian University. Previously, he served as a United States Representative (1973-1979) and Senator (1979-1991) from Colorado. While serving in the United States Senate, he was the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. Mr. Armstrong attended Tulane University and the University of Minnesota, and served in the United States National Guard from 1957 to 1963
Simon J. Boehme (Education Department)
Simon J. Boehme is a senior at Cornell University studying Industrial and Labor Relations. He is a research assistant at the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at the ILR School and Cornell Law School. Simon was named a 2015 Mitchell Scholar. He is a 2013 Truman Scholar, 2010 Coca-Cola Scholar, and 2009 Bezos Scholar. He was an intern at the African Leadership in Johannesburg, South Africa; a former intern at the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM) in Mysore, India and a former White House intern. In 2010, Simon led his high school to win the first White House Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. Additionally, he serves on the Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center Board of Directors as the first youth member. Simon was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Jill Derby, Ph.D. (Senate Democrats)
Jill Derby is a cultural anthropologist by background and training. Dr. Derby is currently the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani in Kurdistan, and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities. Dr. Derby served as an adjunct faculty member in two Nevada colleges. She also served 18 years on the Nevada Board of Regents - the governing board of the Nevada System of Higher Education - filling three terms as board chair. She currently is a governance consultant for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
Roberta L. (Bobbie) Derlin, Ph.D. (Education Department)
Bobbie Derlin is the Associate Provost for system-wide accreditation, outcomes assessment and academic planning at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces, NM. Dr. Derlin earned her B.S. in Psychology, M.S. in Experimental Psychology, and Ph.D. in Urban Education and Political Science from UW-Milwaukee. She also earned a MBA in accounting and finance from Cornell University. Dr. Derlin served as co-chair of the 1986 National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) Annual Meeting in New York and has served the Higher Learning Commission, as a peer reviewer, financial panel reviewer, and visiting team chair. Dr. Derlin is Past President of the New Mexico Higher Education Assessment and Retention Association and presently serves as Chair of the Executive Committee of the Western Academic Leadership Forum, a Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) organization. Dr. Derlin serves on various boards and committees. These include President of the Tompkins Red Cross, Secretary and then Vice President of Tompkins County Planned Parenthood in Ithaca, New York and for multiple terms as President of La Casa, the Las Cruces, NM domestic violence shelter. She has been recognized by Rotary International as a Paul Harris Fellow.
John Etchemendy, Ph.D. (Education Department>
John Etchemendy is the provost of Stanford University. He has been a professor of philosophy at Stanford since 1983, prior to which he was on the faculty at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of seven books and numerous articles in logic, and has been co-editor of the Journal of Symbolic Logic and on the editorial board of several other journals. He is a member of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges regional accreditation commission. Dr. Etchemendy has a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford.
George T. French, Jr., Ph.D. (House Democrats)
George T. French, Jr. is the President of Miles College in Fairfield, AL. He formerly served as the Director of Development at Miles College and is a Christian Methodist Episcopal minister. Dr. French is a graduate of the University of Louisville with a law degree from Miles College.
William 'Brit' E. Kirwan, Ph.D. (House Democrats)
William ‘Brit’ E. Kirwan has been the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland since 2002. Previously, he was the President of Ohio State University for four years, President of University of Maryland, College Park for 10 years, and a faculty member at the University of Maryland for 24 years. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Kentucky and his master’s and doctorate degrees in mathematics from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Anne D. Neal, J.D. (Senate Republicans)
Ms. Neal co-founded the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and has been president since 2003. Prior to joining ACTA, she served as General Counsel for the National Endowment for the Humanities. She also worked as a First Amendment and communications lawyer for Rogers & Wells, and for Wiley Rein & Fielding and as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Harvard College with an A.B. in American history and literature and received her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She has served on the boards of many cultural, environmental and civic organizations and is currently a trustee of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association and the Alexander Hamilton Institute.
Richard F. O'Donnell (Senate Republicans)
Richard O’Donnell is the Founder & CEO of College Portfolio and is currently the Chief Revenue Officer for The Fullbridge Program. From 1998 to 2006, he served in the Colorado Governor’s Cabinet as Executive Director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies and as Executive Director of the Department of Higher Education. Mr. O’Donnell is a graduate of Colorado College with a B.A. in History/Political Science.
William Pepicello, Ph.D. (House Republicans)
William (Bill) Pepicello has been President of the University of Phoenix since 2006. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Classics from Gannon University, and his master’s and doctorate Advanced degrees in Linguistics from Brown University. In 2002 Bill was the founding dean of the School of Studies, which houses the University of Phoenix’s doctoral program.
Arthur J. Rothkopf, J.D. (House Republicans)
Arthur J. Rothkopf is the President Emeritus of Lafayette College. Previously, he served as the senior vice-president and counselor to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. He earned his B.A. from Lafayette College and his law degree from Harvard Law School.
Cameron C Staples, J.D. (Senate Democrats)
Cameron C. Staples is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, Inc. He is a former Representative in the Connecticut General Assembly. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, his Master’s degree in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and a J.D. from the University of Connecticut, School of Law.
Carolyn Williams, Ph.D. (House Democrats)
Dr. Carolyn Williams, President Emeritus, retired as the fourth President of the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York in June 2010 and formerly served as the President of Los Angeles Southwest College. She has designed programs that encourage community college students to continue their postsecondary education. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, her Master’s degree in Urban Planning, and her Ph.D. in Higher Education from Wayne State University, Detroit Michigan..
Frank H. Wu, J.D. (Education Department)
Frank H. Wu is Chancellor and Dean of University of California Hastings College of Law. He was a member of the faculty at Howard University, the nation’s leading historically black college/university, for a decade. He currently is a Trustee of Deep Springs College, and he was previously a Trustee of Gallaudet University, the only university in the world dedicated to deaf and hard of hearing persons. Mr. Wu received his Bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and his J. D. from the University of Michigan.
Federico Zaragoza, Ph.D. (Education Department)
Dr. Federico Zaragoza has been the Vice-Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development at Alamo Colleges since 2004. He helped establish the Alamo University Center which allows Alamo College graduates to earn Bachelors and Masters degrees from five regional universities. Dr. Zaragoza has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, a Master’s degree in Vocational Education, an Education Specialist degree in Industrial and Technical Education, and a Ph.D. in Urban Education and Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
2014 Federal Register Notice of Members: Required Annual Members List
Accrediting agencies are organizations (or bodies) that establish basic quality standards for educational or professional institutions and programs, determine the extent to which the standards are met, and publicly announce their findings.
Accrediting agencies do not guarantee an institution is of the highest quality. Rather, accreditation status confers that an institution meets or exceeds a threshold of quality and depending on the accrediting body, may be involved in continuous improvement activities. Also, most accrediting agencies do not release information about their member institutions other than the institution’s accreditation status. For additional information about institutions, refer to the Department’s College Navigator Web site or the institution’s Web site.
There are two basic types of postsecondary educational accreditation, one identified as "institutional" and one referred to as "specialized" or "programmatic." Institutional accreditation normally applies to an entire institution, indicating that each of an institution’s parts is contributing to the achievement of the institution’s objectives, although not necessarily all at the same level of quality. Institutional accreditors are usually either one of the six geographically-based accrediting commissions or a national accrediting organization. National accreditors focus on particular kinds of institutions, e.g., career schools, distance learning programs, religious colleges and universities, etc., that are homogenic in nature.
Specialized (or programmatic) accreditation normally applies to the evaluation of programs, departments, or schools which usually are parts of a total collegiate or other postsecondary institution. The unit accredited may be as large as a college or school within a university or as small as a curriculum within a discipline. Most of the specialized accrediting agencies review units within a postsecondary institution which is accredited by one of the regional or national accrediting bodies. However, certain specialized accrediting agencies accredit professional schools and other specialized or vocational or other postsecondary institutions which are free-standing in their operations. Thus, a specialized accrediting agency may also function in the capacity of an "institutional" accrediting agency. In addition, a number of specialized accrediting agencies accredit educational programs within non-educational settings, such as hospitals.
The three main actors in the postsecondary institutional quality assurance enterprise, commonly referred to as "the Triad" include:
- Accrediting entities that consist of regional, national or specialized accrediting bodies that perform voluntary, peer evaluation of institutions;
- State governments that authorize or license postsecondary institutions to operate within a State’s borders and that may or may not include quality requirements;
- Federal government that oversees the recognition of accrediting bodies in connection with an accreditor’s member institutions that wish to participate in the Federal student aid programs.
See http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Glossary.aspx for a glossary pertaining to accreditation.
See http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html for additional information and definitions about accrediting agencies, the recognition process, the institutions accredited by a recognized accrediting entity, and the criteria used to recognize an accrediting or State approval body.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Does the Department of Education accredit any postsecondary institutions or programs?
No, the Department of Education does not accredit any postsecondary institutions or programs. However, the U.S. Secretary of Education (Secretary) is required by law to publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies that the Secretary determines to be reliable authorities as to the quality of education or training provided by the institutions of higher education and the higher education programs they accredit. The Secretary also recognizes State agencies for the approval of public postsecondary vocational education and nurse education.
Q. May the U.S. Department of Education interfere with an institution’s decision concerning a student or faculty matter?
A. No, The Department of Education’s Organization Act does not permit the Department to have any control over an institution’s academic, student, or personnel administration. Section 103(b) of that Act reads:
"No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any other such officer to exercise any direction, supervision of control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or schools system, except to the extent authorized by law."
Q. How do I file a complaint about a school or accrediting body?
A. Matters concerning disputes between a student and a faculty member or an administrator over such issues as billing, grading, financial aid, or employment is considered an individual dispute between the parties at an institution. Such disputes are best resolved by the parties involved, through an institution’s Ombudsman, or through the legal system.
Contact an institution’s accrediting body if there is evidence that appears to support the institution’s non-compliance with one or more of its accrediting body’s standards. Clearly identify the standard and how the institution allegedly does not comply. Accrediting agencies should not be contacted in regard to admission information or issues involving application of an institution’s academic policies.
Q. What is the role of an accrediting agency?
A. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets basic, acceptable levels of quality. Accrediting agencies (which are private educational associations of regional, national, or programmatic scope) develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency's evaluation and that meet an agency's criteria are then "accredited" by that agency. Many accrediting agencies are also involved in continuous quality improvement activities.
Q. Is accreditation mandatory for a postsecondary institution or program?
A. Accreditation is an optional, voluntary evaluation for an institution of higher education or one of its programs, but desirable. Accreditation by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education is mandatory for the school’s students to be eligible to participate in any Federal student aid program.
Q. Can an accreditor close a school?
A. An accrediting agency may not close an institution. A State has the authority to issue a license for a school to operate and may close it as well. (Keep in mind that just because a school is licensed, it does not necessarily mean that it is accredited. Licensure simply gives an institution the legal right to operate and the standards required for licensure may differ significantly from those required for accreditation.) Whereas, an accrediting agency assures that the institution or program it accredits meets the accrediting agency’s standards.
Q. How can I obtain student learning outcome data concerning an institution?
A. Contact the school directly for the information. Most accrediting institutions do not provide individual institution’s student learning outcome data to the public.
Q. Can the institutional accreditation system be used to determine whether my credit hours will transfer or what courses will satisfy my professional license requirements?
A. Accreditation does not provide automatic acceptance by an institution of credit earned at another institution, nor does it give assurance of acceptance of graduates by employers. Acceptance of students or graduates is always the prerogative of the receiving institution or employer. For these reasons, besides ascertaining the accredited status of a school or program, students should inquire about whether their educational goals will be met through attendance at a particular institution prior to enrollment or what courses will satisfy professional licensure requirements early in their college career. These measures should include inquiries to institutions to which transfer might be desired, a review of admissions requirements at prospective graduate schools, or with prospective employers or related professional organizations.
Q. Where can I go for information about diploma mills, accreditation mills, scholarship scams, the evaluation of foreign credentials, college credit for life experiences, and other consumer protection information related to accreditation?
- 2014 Policy Initiative: PDF (10MB)
- Department’s Accreditation home page: www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html
- Information about accreditation and licensing, unaccredited institutions, and diploma mills: www2.ed.gov/students/prep/college/diplomamills/resources.html
- National Center for Educational Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov
- Persistence and Attainment of 2003-04 Beginning Postsecondary Students: After Six Years Report: nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/
- College Navigator - find the right college for you: nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
- College Affordability and Transparency Center: collegecost.ed.gov/catc/Default.aspx
- Financial Aid Estimator Tool – FASFA4caster: fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/f4cForm
- Department publications on postsecondary education, financial aid, and consumer protection, etc.: studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/publications.jsp
- Federal Financial Aid – Answering Students’ Questions: studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/parents.jsp
- Preparing for college: studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/preparing.jsp
- Parents – How to help your child prepare for education beyond high school: studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/
- My Future, My Way: First Steps Toward College — A Workbook for Students in Middle and Junior High Schools
- Questions to ask before enrolling in a career or technical school: www2.ed.gov/students/prep/college/consumerinfo/questions.html
- Explore financial aid: www2.ed.gov/students/college/aid/edpicks.jhtml?src=ln
- Scholarships Information: www.fsa4counselors.ed.gov/clcf/freemoney.html
- Studying abroad: www2.ed.gov/students/internatl/abroad/edpicks.jhtml?src=ln
- Adult and non-traditional student resources: www2.ed.gov/students/grad/adult/edpicks.jhtml?src=ln
- Graduate school resources: www2.ed.gov/students/grad/school/edpicks.jhtml?src=ln
- Fast Facts on postsecondary education: nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/index.asp?faq=FFOption6#
- Scholarship scams: www.fsa4counselors.ed.gov/clcf/scams_s.html
- Negotiated Rulemaking -- Program Integrity Team: www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/
- Federal Financial Aid – Answering Students’ Questions: studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/parents.jsp
- Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Office for help resolving a Federal student aid dispute: www.ombudsman.ed.gov/
- Financial Literacy – managing your personal finances: studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html
- Campus Safety: www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/campus.html
- Office of the Inspector General Hotline for reporting suspected fraud, waste, or abuse of Department of Education funds or programs: www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/hotline.html?src=ct
- Margaret Spellings. (2006). A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U.S. Higher Education, A Report of the Commission Appointed by Secretary of Education. Washington: U.S. Department of Education. www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/
Other Useful Web Sites
- Lumina Foundation: www.luminafoundation.org
- Lumina Foundation: The Degree Qualifications Profile
- Lumina Foundation: Degree Profile Q&A
- Lumina Foundation: A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education Report
- Council for Higher Education Accreditation: www.chea.org/
- Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors: www.aspa-usa.org/
- Washington Higher Education Secretariat: www.whes.org/
- Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education: www.wiche.edu
- The Education Trust: www.edtrust.org
- National Center for Postsecondary Improvement: http://www.stanford.edu/group/ncpi/unspecified/toolkits.shtml
- Postsecondary Education Opportunity, The Mortenson Seminar on Public Policy Analysis of Opportunity for Postsecondary Education: www.postsecondary.org
- National Center for Higher Education Management Systems: www.higheredinfo.org
- College Board and the SAT Test: www.collegeboard.org
- ACT Test: www.act.org
- Career One Stop – career information: www.careeronestop.org/studentsandcareeradvisors/
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: www.bls.gov/oco/
- On Guard Online – Avoiding Internet scams: onguardonline.gov/
Below is a list of recommended readings concerning the quality assurance of postsecondary institutions.
History of accreditation
Ewell, P. (2008). U.S. Accreditation and the Future of Quality Assurance. Washington, DC: Council on Higher Education Accreditation.
Bloland, H. (2001) Creating the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing Company.
Hannah, Susan B. 1996. “The Higher Education Act of 1992: Skills, Constraints, and the Politics of Higher Education.” Journal of Higher Education 67: 498-527.
Kinser, Kevin (2006). From Main Street to Wall Street: The Transformation of For-Profit higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass [chapters on accreditation and federal/state regulation of the for-profit sector]
Morgan, John H. (2008). The Gathering Storm: Accreditation and the Search for Accountability in American Higher Education. South Bend: Victoria Press.
O'Brien, Patricia (Ed.) (2009). Accreditation: Assuring and Enhancing Quality. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey Bass.
Parsons, M.D. (1997). Power & Politics: Federal Higher Education Policymaking in the 1990s. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Stensaker, B. and L. Harvey (Eds). (2011). Accountability in Higher Education: Global Perspectives on Trust and Power. New York: Routledge.
Stoesz, David, Howard Jacob Karger, and Terry Carrilio. (2010). A Dream Deferred: How Social Work Education Lost Its Way and What Can Be Done. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Zemsky, Robert. (2009). Making Reform Work: The Case for Transforming American Higher Education. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Inventory of State Uses of Accreditation
Ewell, Peter T., Boeke, Marianne, Zis, Stacey. (2010). State Uses of Accreditation: Results of a Fifty State Inventory. Boulder, CO: NCHEMS. http://www.nchems.org/pubs/detail.php?id=136
International Perspectives and the Bologna Process
International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE): www.inqaahe.org
Clifford Adelman. (2008) The Bologna Club: What U.S. Higher Education Can Learn from a Decade of European Reconstruction. Washington, DC: Institute for Higher Education Policy. (www.ihep.org/assets/files/TheBolognaClub.pdf).
Paul Gaston. (2008). Bologna: A Challenge for Liberal Education and an Exceptional Opportunity. Liberal Education, Vol. 94 , No. 4.
Lewis, Richard. (2009). Quality Assurance in Higher Education – Its Global Future. In Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (au.). Higher Education to 2030 (Vol 2: Globalisation) (pp. 323-355). Paris: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Selected reports and concept papers
Eaton, Judith. (2009). An Overview of U.S. Accreditation. CHEA: Washington, D.C. www.chea.org/pdf/2009.06_Overview_of_US_Accreditation.pdf
Ewell, P. T. (2008). U.S. Accreditation and the Future of Quality Assurance: A Tenth Anniversary Report from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Boulder, CO: NCHEMS. www.nchems.org/pubs/detail.php?id=109
Gillen, Andrew, Daniel L. Bennett, and Richard Vedder, The Inmates Running the Asylum? An Analysis of Higher Education Accreditation (Washington, DC: Center for College Affordability and Productivity, October 2010). www.centerforcollegeaffordability.org/uploads/Accreditation.pdf
Johnston, Susan Whealler and Kyle Long. (2010) How Boards Oversee Educational Quality. Washington, D.C.: Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. www.agb.org/reports/2010/
Leef, George C. and Burris, Roxana D., Can College Accreditation Live Up to its Promise? (Washington, DC: ACTA, 2002). https://www.goacta.org/publications/downloads/
Long, Bridget Terry (2010) Grading Higher Education: Giving Consumers the Information They Need. A paper jointly released by The Center for American Progress and The Hamilton Project. www.brookings.edu/papers/2010/12_higher_ed_long.aspx
American Council of Trustees and Alumni. (2007). Why Accreditation Doesn’t Work and What Policymakers Can Do About It. Washington, DC: American Council of Trustees and Alumni. https://www.goacta.org/publications/downloads/
- Washington Post: College Inc. - January 27, 2011
- Inside Higher ED: What Degrees Should Mean - January 25, 2011
- Chronicle of Higher Education: Lumina’s New Degree Profile: As Elusive as the Snark - January 27, 2011
- Chronicle of Higher Education : Educators Zero In on What Lumina's Degree-Qualification Template Would Mean - January 27, 2011
- AAC&U Statement on the Lumina Foundation for Education’s Proposed Degree Qualifications Profile - January 2011
Information Concerning the NACIQIFor more information concerning the Committee, please contact Carol Griffiths, NACIQI Executive Director and Designated Federal Official, at (202) 219-7035.