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.
Updated information pertaining to the preparation of institutional materials to address the Federal Compliance requirements is now available in the “Related Documents” section of this page. Corresponding materials for peer review teams will be available in May 2016. The updated information will be in effect for visits starting September 1, 2016. Until then, institutions should use the current Federal Compliance Packet.
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 HLC before a visit. The Federal Compliance Filing by Institutions provides guidance to institutions in addressing these requirements. Applying institutions address the Federal Compliance Requirements in their preparations for the comprehensive evaluation visit.
AQIP Pathway institutions address the requirements in the materials prepared for comprehensive evaluations in Year 8. Institutions participating in the Open or Standard Pathway can upload information relevant to Federal Compliance Requirements to the Assurance 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.
- Second, HLC expects that institutions make additional supporting information on Federal Compliance available during the visit (or in the Assurance System). While conducting the visit, peer reviewers should verify that the Federal Compliance information they have received is accurate and complete. They should raise any questions they have with institutional representatives.
- Third, peer reviewers must document that they have conducted a thorough review of the institution’s compliance with federal requirements using the Federal Compliance Worksheet for Evaluation Teams. A Federal Compliance panel reviews the institution’s Federal Compliance materials in advance of the visit and refers any issues to the on-ground team for further exploration and confirmation. In some cases, HLC does not assign a Federal Compliance panel and instead asks that the on-site peer review team conduct the Federal Compliance review as part of its work.
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:
For use starting September 1, 2016: