Accreditation is a term that essentially lets you know that a group, agency or organization accredited a program or college. It is available from regional, national and affiliated organizations. A regional organization will accredit a college and let it award degrees, but this type also allows colleges to offer federal student aid. The national type comes from a larger group and may not have the same requirements in place as regional agencies do. With the program type, you’ll know that you can graduate with all the benefits awarded to an accredited program.
One of the top reasons to check whether a college is accredited is because it gives you financial security. Instead of wondering how you will pay for classes or feeling concerned about student loan debt, you can apply for financial aid through the FAFSA. This qualifies you to receive an aid package that pay include grants and scholarships as well as loans. You can also rest assured that the college itself is financially secure. Accrediting agencies often do finance checks before accrediting a university. If the college is in danger of going out of business, it won’t get accredited.
Diploma Mill Issues
You should attend an accredited college or university to avoid issues surrounding diploma mills. Also known as a common college scam, these schools accept money from students and/or sign them up for expensive student loan programs and provide them with degrees that mean little in the real world. Almost anyone can enroll and graduate with a degree, even those who do not put in the time and work. The Federal Trade Commission lists some of the warning signs of diploma mills as including schools that give you credit for real world experiences, those that charge one flat rate for your whole degree and schools that offer degree programs that take several months or less to complete.
When you enroll in college, you expect that school to offer the same benefits in your later years as it does your early years. If you enroll in an unaccredited college though, you may find that your professors slack off, the college offers fewer resources and that other changes happen in your later years. Accrediting agencies hope to put a stop to these and other problems through regular checks. The college will apply for a renewal of its approval every decade, and only those who pass the renewal process will retain their approval.
Choosing an accredited degree program can also provide you with professional opportunities that you won’t find elsewhere. Certain organizations accredit programs in social work, teacher education, engineering, computer science and even business. If your school has accreditation from that organization, you’ll have access to the journals and professional publications put out by those groups and to exclusive networking opportunities that are only open to members too. Many of these groups also offer cheaper memberships to students that you can extend once you graduate to continue taking advantage of those benefits.
Before choosing a university, you should look at factors like the ratio of teachers to students, the clubs and organizations open to students and the requirements for graduating. You should also look at whether it has accreditation, which is available as a regional, national or program type and ensures that the program or college offers benefits for students.
Related Resource: Top 10 Online Web Design Degree Programs