Understanding the Statement of Affiliation Status and Organizational Profile

The Statement of Affiliation Status (SAS) describes the accreditation relationship between the institution and the Higher Learning Commission. It identifies the nature of the institution and conditions of affiliation and provides a synopsis of Commission review and the status of the institution with the Commission (accredited or candidate, and sanctions, if any). It lists the institution’s legal status (public, private not-for-profit, or private for-profit) and the range of degree levels included in its accreditation (for example, associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s). Specific conditions on the accreditation relationship are also detailed, including permission (or lack thereof) for campus expansion or distance learning endeavors, and any required reports or visits to the institution.

The Organizational Profile (OP) provides information on programs, locations, and distributed education offerings. Most of this information is self-reported by the institution. Although the peer reviewers who visit the institution during an evaluation may verify the information, the Commission cannot vouch for the accuracy of self-reported information.

An institution’s combined SAS and OP may be viewed on the Commission’s Web site by searching for the institution at http://hlcommission.org/Directory-of-HLC-Institutions.html

Statement of Affiliation Status

The following terms may appear on the SAS of an institution.

Accredited: Status of an institution that meets the Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation as evaluated through a peer review process.


Advisory Visit: In response to rapidly changing dynamics at an institution, the Commission may decide to send a team of peer reviewers to visit the institution. In collaboration with the institution, the Commission determines the scope of inquiry of the team.

Candidate for Accreditation: An institution in preaccredited status that has met the Commission’s eligibility requirements and shows evidence that it is making progress toward meeting all the Criteria for Accreditation. Candidacy does not carry membership in the Commission and does not ensure eventual accreditation.

Commission Participation: Commission program through which an institution maintains its accredited status. Currently an institution may choose one of two programs: PEAQ (Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality) or AQIP (Academic Quality Improvement Program).


Comprehensive Evaluation: The process used to determine whether an institution meets or continues to meet the Criteria for Accreditation.

Focused Visit: A team visit that occurs between comprehensive evaluations to examine specific aspects of an institution that can be mandated by the Commission or requested by the institution.


Monitoring Report: A report that is required when the Commission identifies signals that a situation at an institution should change and requests that the institution provides evidence of institutional plans to address the situation.

Placed on Notice: An institution is placed on notice if it is found to be pursuing a course of action that could result in its being unable to meet one or more of the Criteria for Accreditation. Only the Commission’s Board of Trustees, acting on a recommendation by an evaluation team, the Commission’s president, or a committee of peer reviewers, can place an institution on notice. The institution is required to supply a written report on corrective measures, which is used by the president and Board of Trustees to determine to either remove the institution from notice or move it to probation.


Probation: A public status signifying that conditions at an accredited institution jeopardize its ability to meet the Criteria for Accreditation. Only the Commission’s Board of Trustees, acting on a recommendation by an evaluation team, the Commission’s president, or a committee of peer reviewers, can place an institution on probation. The institution must provide clear evidence of its progress toward ameliorating those conditions at its next comprehensive evaluation. The maximum period of probation is two years.


Progress Report: A report from an institution that provides specific information, monitors the institution’s progress in coping with change or challenges, or gives evidence that institutional plans have come to fruition as expected.


Show-Cause Order: An order by the Commission’s Board of Trustees requiring an institution to show cause, within a limited period of time not to exceed one year, as to why its accredited status should not be removed. The Board explains the reasons for its decision in a show-cause order.


Stipulations: Limits placed on the development of new activities or programs, including limits on the size, extent, or location of certain institutional activities.


Systems Appraisal: A process in the AQIP program in which the institution takes stock of its overall systems for maintaining quality.

Systems Portfolio: A document compiled by an institution in the AQIP program that provides the basic information needed to review the institution and assure the public of its quality. The institution updates the Systems Portfolio when major changes occur or new performance data become available.