Institutional Accreditation Overview

The District’s Accreditation History
Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (formerly the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools) dates back to 1974, when Lincoln Trail College first completed the process successfully.  The other 3 colleges followed suit and accreditation granted on August 18, 1984 encompassed all 4 colleges as a single entity in IECC.

The Higher Learning Commission
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. The HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region, which includes 19 states, and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Criteria for Accreditation
Institutions accredited by the Higher Learning Commission must meet the five criteria for accreditation. These criteria emphasize continuous improvement and assessment of student learning.  

Why Accreditation is Important

  • Credit Transfer from one school to another can be impacted based on an institution’s accreditation status.
  • Title IV federal financial aid funds are available to students enrolled in an accredited institution.
  • Career prospects may be hindered with a degree from an unaccredited school.
  • Accreditation provides evidence that an institution meets prescribed academic and quality standards.

The Open Pathway Process
In April 2009 the Higher Learning Commission introduced a new model for accreditation, the Open Pathway.  IECC had the honor of being one of the few invited to participate as a "pioneer institution" in the new Open Pathway Demonstration Project and continues to follow the Open Pathway for accreditation.

Open Pathway follows a 10-year cycle, meaning a comprehensive evaluation occurs every 10 years with reaffirmation as the goal.  IECC’s most recent reaffirmation was June 15, 2015.  Additional institutional reviews in this 10-year cycle include:

Annually - Regular Monitoring via the Institutional Update process.

Year 4 – Assurance Review via the submission of documentation demonstrating how schools fulfill each Criterion and Core Component.     

Years 5 thru 9 – Quality Initiative project is undertaken.

IECC’s Statement of Accreditation Status