Higher Learning Commission


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Special Conditions Affecting Affiliation

The Commission reserves the right to reconsider affiliation at any time; therefore, it may call for a comprehensive or focused evaluation whenever it believes one is warranted. This applies to all affiliated institutions, whether they are using PEAQ or AQIP. In such cases, the Commission will specify both the timing of the evaluation and the materials to be used, without the usual cycle of reminder letters and without the usual requirement (in the case of comprehensive evaluations) that the institution undertake a comprehensive self-study process and prepare a self-study report. The Commission will provide clearly specified reasons for its decision.

Situations Calling for Special Monitoring

The Commission reserves the right to call for special monitoring when the integrity of the institution and its educational programs might be in jeopardy. The Commission’s president may conduct such monitoring by calling for a special report or an advisory visit.

Accreditation of Closing Organizations

When the governing board of an accredited institution decides to close the institution, it may ask the Commission’s Board of Trustees for an extension of its accreditation beyond the publicly announced date of closing. The sole purpose of the extension is to ensure that its students have an opportunity to complete degrees and programs without undue difficulty.


From time to time, the Commission may apply a sanction against an affiliated organization. Currently, the Commission has two sanctions: placed on notice and probation.

Placed on Notice

An organization is placed on notice if it is found to be pursuing a course of action that could result in its being unable to meet one or more Criteria for Accreditation. In placing an organization on notice, the Board identifies in the institution’s Statement of Affiliation Status the specific conditions that led to its being placed on notice and a due date for a written report on corrective measures taken.


Probation signifies that conditions exist at an accredited institution that endanger its ability to meet one or more of the Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation. In placing an organization on probation, the Board identifies in the institution’s Statement of Affiliation Status the specific conditions that led to probation and the date of the next comprehensive evaluation, at which time the institution must provide clear evidence of its progress toward ameliorating those conditions.

Publication of Sanctions

Placed on Notice and Probation are public sanctions. The Statement of Affiliation Status of the institution is available from the Commission after the institution has been notified officially of the sanction. The Commission informs the institution about its obligations for disclosure of any sanctions applied against its affiliation. Probation is also noted in the Commission’s published lists of affiliated institutions.

Denial of Affiliation

The Board of Trustees may deny candidate or accredited status to an institution when an evaluation team or Review Committee recommends that such affiliation be denied. The Board provides the rationale for the decision to the institution and makes it available to the public.

Withdrawal of Affiliation

An institution loses its affiliation with the Commission as a result of action taken by the Board of Trustees following a visit within the year preceding the Board’s action to withdraw affiliation or upon recommendation of the president, if a visit has occurred within the year preceding.

Appeal of a Commission Decision to Deny or Withdraw Affiliation

Institutions have the right to appeal a Commission decision that denies or withdraws candidate or accredited status. As stated in Commission policy, the grounds for such an appeal are “(a) that the Board’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, or not supported by substantial evidence in the record on which the Board took action; or (b) that the procedures used to reach the decision were contrary to the Commission By-laws, Handbook of Accreditation or other established policies and practices, and that procedural error prejudiced the Board’s consideration.”

Voluntary Withdrawal of Application for Affiliation

An institution may withdraw its application for affiliation, without prejudice, any time before a decision on that affiliation is made by the Commission. The withdrawal must be initiated by the legally designated governing body of the institution. The Commission will retain all fees if the application is withdrawn after the team visit has been made.

Resignation from Affiliation

Affiliation with the Commission is voluntary, and an institution may resign its affiliation at any time. Because resignation terminates candidate or accredited status, it must be initiated by action of the legally designated governing body of the institution. Within thirty days, the Commission issues a public disclosure notice that describes the resignation, including resignation based on the closing of the institution.

Reapplication following Withdrawal, Resignation, or Denial

Commission policy specifies a waiting time for institutions that withdraw application, resign their status, or have their status denied or withdrawn by the Commission. Submission of a new self-study report constitutes reapplication. In most cases the organization will be required to complete the Eligibility Process before submitting the self-study report.