Accredited and candidate institutions are required each year to provide data to HLC through the Institutional Update. HLC reviews non-financial data for seven indicator conditions and requests responses from institutions when certain indicators occur. The purpose of this process is to identify institutions that may be at risk of not meeting components of the Criteria for Accreditation.
Non-Financial Indicator Conditions
Note: Indicator Conditions 6 and 7 do not apply to graduate-only institutions. “Small Institutions” are those with less than 1,000 students while “large institutions” are those with 1,000 students or more.
- Enrollment Changes – Three-year increase or decrease of 80 percent or more in enrollment for small institutions or 40 percent or more for large institutions.
- Degrees Awarded – Three-year increase or decrease of 75 percent or more in degrees awarded for small institutions and 65 percent or more for large institutions.
- Full-time Faculty Changes – Three year decrease of 75 percent or more for small institutions or 50 percent or more for large institutions in the headcount of full-time faculty (not full-time equivalent).
- Student Default Rates - Three-year student loan default rate of 30 percent or more for 2-year institutions or 25 percent or more for other institutions.
- Minimal Full-time Faculty - The headcount of full-time faculty (not full-time equivalent) divided by the number of degree programs offered is less than one.
- Student to Teacher Ratio - The number of undergraduate full-time equivalent students divided by the number of undergraduate full-time equivalent faculty is greater than or equal to 35.
- Weak Graduation/Persistence Rates Compared to Peers - The number of full-time equivalent undergraduate students divided by undergraduate degrees awarded is in the top percentages of the institution's peers. Peer groups are either 2-year small or large undergraduate institutions or 4-year small or large undergraduate institutions.
Non-Financial Indicators Triggering a Warning Letter to the Institution
A warning letter is sent when the non-financial indicator process identifies that an institution may be at risk of not meeting the Criteria for Accreditation. These indicators do not meet or exceed the conditions that require a report. The indicators resulting in a warning letter are:
- Indicator 1 - three-year decrease in enrollment of 80 percent or more for small institutions or 40 percent or more for large institutions.
- Indicator 4.
- Indicator 7 at 5 percent.
- Any two indicators.
- Any one indicator for a graduate-only institution.
Non-Financial Indicators Requiring the Institution to Submit a Report
A letter requiring a report is sent to an institution when the process identifies indicators that the institution may not meet the Criteria for Accreditation. The indicators resulting in a letter requiring a report are:
- Indicator 1 - three-year increase in enrollment of 80 percent or more for small institutions or 40 percent or more for large institutions.
- Indicator 1 or 4 and at least one of the other six indicators.
- Three or more of the indicators (two or more for graduate-only institutions).
- Indicator 7 at 3 percent.
- Indicator 7 at 5 percent and at least one of the six other indicators.