What Is College Accreditation?

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    Department of Education

    • The Department of Education recognizes only certain accrediting agencies as legitimate, so it is best to check its list before you choose a school if accreditation is important to you.

    Voluntary

    • Accreditation is a voluntary process; schools are not required to be accredited.

    Types

    • Although the Department of Education only recognizes regional accrediting associations, some schools choose to be accredited by national, worldwide and specialty accrediting agencies.

    Regions

    • Six regional accreditation agencies exist: the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

    Financial Aid

    • If a school is not accredited by an agency approved by the Department of Education, it cannot offer federal or state financial aid, although it may offer private loans.

    Transfer Credit

    • Although it is not a guarantee, having credits from a regionally accredited school makes it more likely that they will transfer to another school.

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