Accredited online colleges and universities are those that have met a specific standard of quality by one of the national accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Since the U.S. does not have central authority over postsecondary educational institutions and states may or may not exert regulatory control over online colleges and universities and other postsecondary educational institutions, the government and postsecondary educational system as a whole rely on accreditation to mark whether the schools meet established standards. There are several regional and national accrediting agencies qualified to title institutions with accreditation.
What Does Accreditation Mean to You as an Online Student
Accreditation is a very important consideration that affects many aspects of your online learning.
Quality Seal for Your Online Education
Online colleges and universities that have been accredited have courses that meet federally and regionally accepted standards for quality, so may offer an education that better prepares you for your field.
Credits that Can Be Transferred to Other Colleges
Accreditation also plays a large role in whether other established colleges and universities will accept the credits you’ve completed. Many colleges and universities only accept transfer credits from accredited institutions of higher learning, so completing a program from an institution that is not accredited is risky if you know that you eventually want to further your education or hope to transfer to another school in the future.
Possibility of Increased Access to Financial Aid
The federal government considers many factors when determining whether colleges or universities will receive federal aid that they may then offer to their students. One of these factors is recognition by a federally accepted accrediting agency. Accredited online colleges can use their accreditation to establish their eligibility to receive Title IV federal funding, which includes federal student aid programs for grants, loans and work-study.
Additionally, accreditation helps other public and private entities decide whether or not they will invest in the school either for overall institutional development or to provide additional aid for students.