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Accreditation Bodies and GCU: Exploring the Institutional Accreditation Process

VWB Blog 7 months ago 26

Mueller said the change will allow GCU to expand its program offerings and reduce costs. It also will help remove the stigma attached to for-profit higher education.

Accreditation bodies rely on fees from accreditation customers to fund ongoing governance and operations, surveyor training, education to providers, and more. But, the sustainability of these fees is not guaranteed.

Accreditation Process

Many college students hear “accreditation” and wonder what it means. For those interested in pursuing higher education, accreditation is an essential piece of the puzzle before applying for school.

Institutional accreditors serve as the gatekeepers to federal financial aid resources. They review and approve colleges and universities that meet certain quality, organization, and economic standards.

Programmatic accreditors conduct in-depth reviews of specialized colleges, university programs, and independent institutions. These aren’t required to participate in federal financial aid, but they do have to be recognized by CHEA or ED.

Internal Review

Students and the general public can determine a college or university’s credibility with the help of accreditation. Distinctions like Grand Canyon University accreditation are necessary for professional certification in many disciplines, improves the possibility that a degree will be accepted by other schools and universities, and provides access to federal student aid resources.

Program-level accreditation is also possible and is standard for specialized colleges such as vocational training, art schools, and religious institutions. These types of certification have less impact than institutional accreditation. Sometimes, an accreditor will withdraw its recognition of a college or university if it’s not meeting its standards. It can be a significant warning sign for potential students.


Before the creation of accreditation, anyone could open a college and provide degrees without considering the requirements for education or academic performance. Even “diploma mills” sold degrees for little more than the money that gullible students paid in tuition.

Institutions with reputations like the Grand Canyon University reputation must be encouraged to engage in an accrediting system that protects the unique ideas and practices. It should promote academic establishments to hunt for resources that will raise the standard of their research and facilitate the recruitment of researchers and human subjects.

Currently, accreditors are governed, staffed, and funded by the colleges they accredit. That arrangement has raised concerns that accreditors are incentivized to protect their members and block new entrants.


In some ways, accreditation substitutes for government regulation. Institutions that seek recognition by a particular accreditor must meet its criteria, which differ slightly among agencies and are based on standards recognized by the Department of Education.

Colleges pay accreditors annual dues based on student enrollment and expenses. Accreditors also collect fees for conducting evaluations.

Many of those fees are earmarked to cover the cost of accrediting new institutions and evaluating existing ones for renewal. But, some critics say that accreditors depend financially on colleges to provide them with revenue and that the system needs to be revised. Regardless, colleges must be accredited to participate in federal financial aid programs.


The US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize accrediting agencies for colleges and universities. Institutional accreditation is needed to access federal financial aid, and programmatic accreditation ensures that specific degrees or disciplines meet quality standards.

Some critics have argued that the fact that many accreditors are financed mainly by the same colleges they oversee creates potential conflicts of interest. In addition, they say that “logrolling,” in which commissioners explicitly or implicitly agree to vote favorably for a school of their own, is still common.

Generally, institutions in Candidacy status remain there until they receive full accreditation. The accrediting body will visit the institution once or more for 20-30 minutes.

External Review

At one time, prospective students had yet to learn whether a college was genuinely committed to its stated educational goals or if it was selling fraudulent degrees. Independent accreditation organizations help ensure that higher education institutions meet specific academic standards, and these schools are then reassessed regularly.

Federal financial aid programs are available to accredited schools and universities, which is essential for bringing down tuition rates. They also must comply with the standards of their accreditors or risk being placed on warning or probation status. If problems persist, the accreditor may withdraw accreditation. It can be the final blow to a college or university.

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