The U.S. Department of Education (ED) specifies that an institution must be accredited by a nationally recognized accreditor for students to receive federal student aid, but ED does not have the authority to directly manage the accreditors. Instead, the accreditor review process is conducted by ED staff and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). Critics have observed that NACIQI and ED rarely hold accreditors accountable for their outcomes. In fact, a 2016 study by the Office of Elizabeth Warren found that between 2010 and 2016, NACIQI initially identified compliance issues with 80% of the accreditors requesting a status renewal but took no immediate action. To learn more about the college accreditation process and possibilities for accreditation reform, read “College Accreditation, Explained” on

—Education Next

Last updated June 19, 2018