What is Accreditation?

As a prospective student, you can protect yourself by ascertaining whether the school you plan to attend is accredited, which is different from SCHEV certification.

Accreditation is a lengthy process conducted by recognized third-party organizations that review institutions of Top view of students that are studying. higher education for standards of quality. The US Department of Education (USED) requires that schools be accredited in order for its students to participate in federal financial aid programs, such as the PELL grant. If your school is unaccredited, you will not be eligible for such financial aid. You can check a school's accreditation status with the USED.

Not all schools are required to maintain accreditation. For example, schools focusing on vocational training may choose not to seek accreditation and still offer widely accepted certifications. However, many vocational programs must meet certain licensing requirements. You should confirm that a school's unaccredited program will lead to licensure with relevant state agencies or boards. 

Many colleges and universities will not accept transfer credits from a school that is unaccredited. If your course credits came from a school that is not accredited, you could lose out on the hours and courses that you have already completed. Additionally, many states require students have a degree or certificate from an accredited program or institution before you can sit for certain tests or acquire state licensure. Finally, if your degree, diploma or certificate comes from an unaccredited school, it could hurt your chances for future employment. 

You should also know how to recognize and avoid "diploma mills," which are institutions that are known to offer fraudulent academic credentials. "Diploma mills" frequently have diplomas available for purchase or available through resume review only. Such schools may offer degrees based on your work experience or in suspiciously short periods of time. It generally takes time to earn a college or advanced degree, so degrees earned in a very short time, or several degrees listed for the same year, can be warning signs for admissions personnel or human resource officers.

“Diploma mills” and other dubious institutions may make claims for which they provide no proof. For example, the school’s website might not provide information about its location or faculty credentials. Be wary if a school guarantees employment or makes claims about the amount of money you could make after graduation.

You should also be careful of institutions with names that sound or look like those of well-known colleges or universities. If an institution you want to attend has a name similar to a well-known school, but is located in a different state, check its accreditation status with the USED.