Higher Learning Commission


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Federal Compliance Program

As a federally recognized accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is required to assure that all its member institutions are meeting their Title IV program responsibilities as well as complying with the expectations of specific regulations accreditors must enforce as a part of their recognition by the U.S. Department of Education. Compliance with these requirements by both institutions and HLC is necessary to ensure that institutions accredited by the HLC are eligible for federal financial aid.

The materials to be used by institutions preparing for and teams conducting evaluations for initial candidacy and initial or continued accreditation beginning in January 2013 are available from this page. These documents have been updated to reflect changes in policy and process. Information and forms related to the new requirement on the credit hour have been incorporated into these materials. All earlier documents and templates are now obsolete and should not be used.

Expectations for Institutions and Peer Reviewers

The Higher Learning Commission’s Federal Compliance Program follows a three-step process:

  • First, institutions must address the federal requirements in the materials they submit to the Commission before a visit. “Federal Compliance Filing by Institutions” provides guidance to institutions in addressing these requirements. Applying institutions and PEAQ institutions address the Federal Compliance requirements in the self-study before the comprehensive evaluation visit. AQIP institutions address the requirements in the materials prepared for Quality Checkup Visits.

    Institutions participating in the Open or Standard Pathway can upload information relevant to Federal Compliance Requirements to the Assurance System once they gain access to that system. Institutions participating in the Open Pathway must demonstrate that they meet the Federal Compliance Requirements during the Year 10 comprehensive evaluation. Institutions participating in the Standard Pathway must demonstrate that they meet the Federal Compliance Requirements in the Year 4 and Year 10 comprehensive evaluations.

    Peer reviewers should study the requirements and submitted materials before the visit to determine whether there are any areas of concern.

  • Second, the Commission expects that institutions make Federal Compliance additional supporting information available in the Resource Room during the visit (or in the Assurance System). While conducting the visit, peer reviewers should verify that the Federal Compliance information they received is accurate and complete. They should raise any questions they have with institutional representatives.

  • Third, peer reviewers document that they have conducted a thorough review of the institution’s compliance with federal requirements using the “Federal Compliance Worksheet for Evaluation Teams.”

Related Documents

The Federal Compliance Packet provides all the information pertaining to the preparation of institutional and team materials to address the Federal Compliance requirements. The packet contains the following documents:

  • Federal Compliance Guide
  • Federal Compliance Filing by Institutions (available as a link from the packet)
  • Federal Compliance Worksheet for Evaluation Teams (available as a link from the packet)
  • Information on Contractual and Consortial Arrangements

Worksheet Samples

As a resource, the Commission provides sample worksheets of how accredited institutions have completed the Worksheet for Use by Institutions on Assignment of Credit Hours and on Clock Hours.

Colorado Northwestern Community College

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

West Virginia Northern Community College

Western State Colorado University