Posted Date: August 5, 2016

Author:  Robin Minor, Chief Compliance Officer, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Guidance for Schools Seeking New Accreditation

The Department has recently received numerous inquiries from institutions regarding the process for seeking a new accrediting agency. This electronic announcement reminds institutions about how to apply to the Department to change a primary accrediting agency, including the types of documentation an institution should submit as part of such an application.

An institution that is proactively seeking new accreditation must take the following steps in order to change its primary accrediting agency:

  • The institution must notify the Department in writing of the intent to change its accrediting agency as soon as possible when the institution begins the process of obtaining a new accrediting agency. With its notification, the institution must submit to the Department documentation of its current accreditation and must demonstrate a reasonable cause for changing its accrediting agency. Institutions should submit this notification and related documentation via email to CaseTeams@ed.gov with a subject line that reads “Notification Regarding Accreditation.” An institution should include with this notification:

    • The name of the institution’s current primary accrediting agency;
    • The new agency from which the institution is seeking accreditation; and
    • The reason the institution is seeking the change.

  • When the institution has secured new accreditation, it must formally notify the Department of its changed status using the online electronic application (E-App), including indicating which accrediting agency will be its new primary accreditor in Section B, Question 15 of the application. A non-profit or public institution may also complete this process as soon as it is granted preaccreditation status by its new accrediting agency, if that agency is recognized by the Department to grant preaccreditation status. The institution should include documentation of its accreditation or preaccreditation by the new agency as part of the supporting information it provides the Department through the electronic application process.

Please note that in order to avoid losing Title IV eligibility during this process, an institution should not drop its association with its current accrediting agency until after the Department provides written notice that it acknowledges the new accrediting agency as the institution’s primary accrediting agency.

Additional information regarding the process for adding a new accrediting agency is available in Volume 2, Chapter 5 of the 2016-2017 FSA Handbook, which may be found at: http://ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/attachments/1617FSAHbkVol2Ch5.pdf.

If you have any questions regarding the process to change your institution’s primary accrediting agency, please contact the School Participation Division (SPD) responsible for the oversight of your institution. Contact information for each SPD may be found at http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/services/casemanagement.html.

   

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