Higher Learning Commission

Policy Title: Relations With State Higher Education Agencies and Other State Offices

Number: COMM.C.10.040

The Commission shall maintain communications and discussions with officers of states, higher education agencies and other state offices to clarify the functions and concerns of the Commission with respect to its affiliated institutions.

Consideration for the Decisions of State Higher Education Agencies. In determining whether an institution meets the Commission’s Eligibility Requirements, Criteria for Accreditation and other requirements, the Commission will consider actions of the state in which the institution has its main campus or in which it meets the legal requirements to seek authorization for its educational activities with specific attention to issued or pending decisions by states to deny, suspend, revoke, withdraw or terminate legal authority to provide education in that state. The Commission will also expect that institutions will disclose such information in the Eligibility Process and place it in its Assurance File when seeking candidate or accredited status or when undergoing regular review by the Commission through any pathway. The Commission may request information directly from the state higher education office and place it in the Assurance File for review by an evaluation team and for consideration in the accrediting action.

In considering a substantive change the Commission shall request information from an institution regarding its authorization from the state related to the substantive change for which the institution is seeking Commission approval or may request it directly from the state and shall take it into account in the accrediting action.

If a state has denied, suspended, revoked, terminated or withdrawn an institution’s authority to provide education in that state, the Commission, through its decision-making processes and subject to the limitations in the Eligibility Requirements, will carefully weigh these matters in reaching its own decision to grant accredited or candidate for accreditation status. If the Commission chooses to grant status to an institution in these circumstances, it will provide the Secretary of Education a written explanation of why that action is appropriate within thirty (30) days of taking the action.

Information Provided to States. If the Commission takes action to place an institution on notice or probation, notice, or withdraw or deny accreditation or candidate for accreditation status, or if the Commission places an institution on show-cause, the Commission will notify state higher education agencies at the same time that it notifies the institution and the U.S. Department of Education but not later than thirty (30) days after the action, and will include a Public Disclosure Notice that provides reasons for the Commission’s decision. If the action was denial or withdrawal of accredited or candidate for accreditation status, that Public Disclosure will within sixty (60) days after the action becomes final include comments from the affected institution or information to indicate that the institution was provided an opportunity to comment but did not do so. The Commission will notify state higher education agencies of an action to reaffirm or grant accreditation or initial candidacy or approve a substantive change or the results of monitoring within thirty (30) days of the action; it will notify the state higher education agency of a voluntary resignation by an institution of its accredited or candidate status within thirty (30) days of receiving notification from the institution or the resignation.

If a state higher education agency seeks written or other information about an institution that has accredited or candidate status with the Commission, or that has previously sought such status with the Commission, the Commission will forward that information to the state after receiving a written request.

Coordinated Visits with State Higher Education Agencies. The Commission may schedule an evaluation visit to an institution when representatives of such boards are on campus if (1) the institution wishes this schedule and (2) the President of the Commission and the chair of the visiting team approve arrangements which ensure the autonomy of the Commission team. Whether the representatives are present as observers of the Commission team or for other purposes, the Commission team may meet with them to share information. However, such representatives shall not participate in Commission team deliberations leading directly to the team’s recommendations to the Commission.

At the request of an institution and state agency, the Commission may send a peer reviewer to the institution or one or more of its campuses or additional locations to confirm that an institution remains in compliance with Commission policy. The peer reviewer will prepare a written report of findings from the evaluation following instructions provided by the Commission.


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Policy History

Last Revised: November 2012
First Adopted: January 1983, February 1986, June 2000
Revision History: February 1996, February 1998, June 2001, February 2008, June 2008, February 2009, June 2012
Notes: Policies combined in November 2012 –10.2

Policy Number Key

Section COMM: Commission Policies

Chapter C: Relationships with External Agencies

Part 10: General


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