What is the Higher Learning Commission?

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The Higher Learning Commission, also known as the HLC, is an organization responsible for accrediting colleges in the United States. It is one of just a handful of organizations that operates with approval from the United States Department of Education. As a regional accreditation organization, it has separate divisions that offer accreditation for colleges in the Midwest and other regions of the United States. Regional accreditation is important for any student who needs financial aid for college and plans on applying for assistance from the federal government.

Accreditation Process

One duty of the HLC is that it ensures all colleges meet the mandatory requirements for accreditation. Unless a college or university can prove upfront that it meets those requirements, the process will not continue. The HLC will then provide that school with a list of its policies to ensure that the school will follow those policies and send a committee to meet with representatives from the school. This committee will ask questions regarding how many students complete their studies each year, the number of students who find employment in their fields and the experience and backgrounds of campus professors.

HLC Policies

The HLC has a number of policies in place that all colleges must follow after receiving accreditation. Some of these policies relate to the way that current students, alumni and others can file complaints against a college. If a college receives a complaint, the HLC will send investigators to the college to meet with the dean and other professionals. Based on the results of that investigation, the HLC can put the college on probation or revoke its accreditation. Colleges that lose accreditation may apply again, and those placed on probation have several years to meet the minimum requirements for accreditation.

Renewing Accreditation

Though you might think that the Higher Learning Commission will never revoke accreditation until doing an extensive investigation, the HLC can revoke a college’s accreditation during the renewal phase. The HLC requires that all colleges apply for a renewal of its accreditation within 10 years of first receiving it. Those schools will need to renew their accreditation every decade in the coming years too. This gives the HLC time to see whether anything changed in the past years and whether the college should retain its accreditation. Based on the applications those schools submit and the investigation required, the HLC can renew or revoke a college’s accreditation or place it on probation.

Requirements for Accreditation

According to the HLC, a college applying for accreditation must have a detailed mission statement that clearly explains what it hopes students will get from the classes they take. Schools must also have a code of conduct that applies to both students and faculty. Colleges also need to provide students with academic support and have efficient teachers who strive to do the best for their students. Other requirements for HLC accreditation include having a plan in place for future advancement and implementing a program to review instructors and classes.

The HLC is one of the top organizations in the country that accredits colleges. In addition to the head office, it operates local offices that grant regional accreditation. The Higher Learning Commission has strict regulations and policies in place regarding which schools receive accreditation and how those schools can retain or renew their accreditation.