Higher Learning Commission


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Federal Compliance Program

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.

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 the Commission before a visit. “Federal Compliance Filing by Institutions” provides guidance to institutions in addressing these requirements. Applying institutions and PEAQ institutions address the Federal Compliance requirements in the self-study before the comprehensive evaluation visit. AQIP Pathway institutions address the requirements in the materials prepared for Quality Checkup Visits.

    Institutions participating in the Open or Standard Pathway can upload information relevant to Federal Compliance Requirements to the Assurance System once they gain access to that 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, the Commission expects that institutions make Federal Compliance additional supporting information available during the visit (or in the Assurance System). While conducting the visit, peer reviewers should verify that the Federal Compliance information they received is accurate and complete. They should raise any questions they have with institutional representatives.

  • Third, peer reviewers document that they have conducted a thorough review of the institution’s compliance with federal requirements using the “Federal Compliance Worksheet for Evaluation Teams.”

Related Documents

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:

  • Federal Compliance Guide
  • Information on Contractual and Consortial Arrangements

Federal Compliance Filing by Institutions

Worksheet Samples

As a resource, the Commission provides sample worksheets of how accredited institutions have completed the Worksheet for Use by Institutions on Assignment of Credit Hours and on Clock Hours.

Colorado Northwestern Community College

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

West Virginia Northern Community College

Western State Colorado University