Accreditors crack down on graduation rates

Colleges will be also be evaluated on loan default and loan repayment rates

The Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) is increasing pressure on institutions with low graduation rates, Andrew Kreighbaum reports for Inside Higher Ed

C-RAC says it will focus on four-year institutions with graduation rates at or below 25% over six years and two-year institutions at or below 15% over four years. It plans to demand more information from these schools about how they account for the low figures and what they're doing to improve. Accreditors will also look into loan default and loan repayment rates at the schools under the expanded review.

The commission will notify colleges and universities that meet the criteria for investigation that they are subject to additional review. The change will affect 266 four-year institutions and 279 two-year institutions, according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

C-RAC will conduct its review with:

  • Peer visits to institutions;
  • Focused evaluations; and
  • Probation or withdrawal of accreditation, in the most serious cases.

"Under this new policy, regional accreditors will use a set of common criteria to identify institutions that may be struggling and subject them to additional scrutiny, while also considering individual institutional missions and student populations," said American Council on Education President Molly Corbett Broad in a statement.

Of the four-year institutions eligible for additional review:

  • 85 are public;
  • 73 are private; and
  • 105 are for-profit.

Many of the institutions that meet the criteria for expanded review are community colleges and minority-serving institutions. However, C-RAC acknowledges that a single metric for graduation rates does not provide a complete picture of a college's failures or successes. It will also take into account data such as transfer rates for a more comprehensive analysis (Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed, 9/21). 


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