What Does It Mean for a College or University to be Regionally Accredited?

Are you searching for a college or a university that is accredited? If you are in the process of applying to colleges, it is very important to understand the major differences between a regional accreditation and other types of accreditation that exist today. A regional accreditation is one that can be earned by colleges and universities who apply to undergo the voluntary evaluations with one of the six regional accreditation associations that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Read on to learn why a regional accreditation is important, and what can happen when you attend a college that is not regionally accredited.

Why Does a Regional Accreditation Matter?

One thing that all students must understand is that accreditation is not one-size-fits-all. If you are comparing different colleges and universities, you may stumble across some that have earned a regional accreditation and others that have earned a national accreditation from a commission that evaluates career or technology programs. The type of school that you plan on attending will dictate which type of accreditation that you should look for.

If you are attending a public or private 2 or 4-year college, it is in your best interest to attend a school with a regional accreditation. This means that the school has applied to the regional body overseeing their territory and passed the stringent evaluation process to prove it is a quality higher education institution. By choosing a school that meets the accreditation standards, you can trust that the school is dedicated to providing students with the knowledge that they need to success in the professional world.

What is the Importance of Attending a School that is Regionally Accredited?

Aside from the fact that it is important to choose an institution that is dedicated to meeting regional standards, there are other reasons why students must take accreditation seriously. If you are interested in receiving financial aide from the Federal Government or any type of state grants, you will need to select a school that is regionally accredited. Only schools that have earned this type of accreditation are given the power to offer FAFSA applications to students who qualify.

In addition to offering Federal financial aide, colleges that are in good standing with a regional accreditation body will offer degree programs that are recognized by licensing bodies and advanced graduate schools. If you would like to transfer to another school, your credits must be transferable. If you would like to test for a professional or vocational license, the courses that you must complete need to be taken from an approved school. If you do not take credits at a school with a regional accreditation, you risk having to take these courses again.

When you are comparing schools that you are interested in attending to earn a degree, you should focus on narrowing your list. The first way to narrow down your list is to cross those schools without a regional accreditation off. Once you do this, focus on comparing tuition costs, class sizes and degree program options. After you do your homework, you can choose to attend a school that will help you succeed in the future.