Higher Learning Commission

Policy Title: Eligibility

Number: INST.B.20.010

Non-affiliated institutions will establish eligibility for a Commission on-site evaluation for initial status by completing the Commission’s Eligibility Process and by receiving a determination at the conclusion of that process that the institution is ready to schedule and prepare for a visit. An institution seeking a Commission on-site evaluation for initial status shall provide sufficient evidence in writing that it meets the Eligibility Requirements. The determination that an institution meets the Eligibility Requirements will take place during the review processes involved in establishing an initial affiliation with the Commission: a team and subsequent reviewers will make this determination based on a self-study and on evidence derived from the on-site visit.

An institution may claim no official Status of Affiliation with the Commission during the Eligibility Process or the self-study process.

Eligibility Process

The Eligibility Process provides for Commission staff consultation and for review by Eligibility Reviewers to determine the institution’s readiness to begin the self-study process. Eligibility Reviewers review the written evidence put forward by a non-affiliated institution that it meets the Eligibility Requirements and determine whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant the Commission scheduling an on-site visit for the institution and allowing it to begin the self-study Process. An applying organization may choose to seek either candidate for accreditation or accredited status and must prepare its self-study to address the status sought.

An organization that does not receive a recommendation to proceed with a Commission visit can petition the Board of Trustees for a review if it can provide evidence that the decision of the Eligibility Reviewers was arbitrary or capricious or was not supported by substantial evidence in the record on which the Reviewers made their decision or that the Commission staff or Eligibility Reviewers departed from established procedures during the review.

Fees will be charged and published in a schedule of fees for the Eligibility Process.

Eligibility Reviewers

The Board of Trustees will choose peer reviewers who have completed terms as members of the Institutional Actions Council to serve as a reviewer for the Eligibility process. These reviewers will fill non-renewable four-year terms, with a maximum of five years of service when a reviewer is chosen to fill an uncompleted term.

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Related Policies


Policy History

Last Revised: February 2007
First Adopted: November 1998
Revision History: revised February 2003, effective May 2003, revised February 2007, renumbered November 2010
Notes: Policies combined November 2012 – 1.8, 1.8(a), 1.8(b), 1.8(c)

Policy Number Key

Section INST: Institutional Policies

Chapter B: Requirements for Achieving and Maintaining Affiliation

Part 20: Defining the Affiliating Entity

Related Procedures


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