Editor's Note: Dr. Gary J. Burkholder is a Senior Research Scholar and faculty member at Walden University. He serves as Co-Chair of the HLC Steering Committee. Dr. Burkholder has served at Walden University since 2001 in a number of faculty, academic, and business leadership roles. Dr. Burkholder also served as Co-Chair of the HLC Self-Study Steering Committee for the 2012 visit.
Earlier posts about the accreditation reaffirmation process addressed the five criteria of the Standard Pathway and demonstrated how Walden meets those criteria. However, in addition to those criteria, Walden must also demonstrate that it meets other requirements including Federal Compliance.
The Federal Compliance submission is a very critical part of the assurance argument on which the committee has been working. The Department of Education has a number of requirements that institutions need to fulfill to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid. In addition, the institution must meet these requirements to maintain accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Below are some examples of what we have to report on in the Federal Compliance section.
Assignment of Credits, Program Length, and Tuition: Each must be consistent with practices common to other institutions of higher education. Included in this section is the definition of the credit hour, which defines the work students must do to earn each credit. For example, we have to be very transparent about how we determine that our online courses meet the workload requirements expected by the federal definition. We will also need to provide examples of syllabi from courses at all degree levels to the Federal Compliance review panel.
Practices for Verification of Student Identity: We must show that we can verify the identity of students who participate in our classes.
Title IV Program Responsibilities: In this section, we present our student loan default rates, satisfactory academic progress and attendance policies, and other information required by the federal government.
These are just some examples of the kinds of information we need to provide to the commission as part of our assurance argument to ensure our compliance with federal guidelines.
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