“Accreditation” is a review of the quality of higher education institutions and programs, with a focus on institutions and students receiving federal funds.
In the United States, USDE and CHEA recognized accreditation is a major way that students, families, government officials, and the press know that an institution or program provides quality education with federal and or state funds to students and the institution. However, faith-based private colleges, universities, or programs are not required to seek this accreditation.
Accreditation of institutions and programs is provided by an Accrediting Commission approved by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
When a college, university, or program is USDE, CHEA accredited:
Students who want federal (and sometimes state) grants and loans need to attend a college, university, or program that is USDE, CHEA accredited.
Some employers ask if a college, university, or program is USDE, CHEA accredited before deciding to provide tuition assistance to current employees, evaluating the credentials of new employees, or making a charitable contribution.
The federal government requires that a college, university, or program be USDE, CHEA accredited in order to be eligible for federal grants and loans or other federal funds.
State governments require that a college, university, or program be USDE, CHEA accredited when they make state funds available to students or institutions and when they allow students to sit for state licensure examinations in some professional fields.