National, regional, and specialized accreditors that oversee federal funding eligibility must be reviewed by the ED to ensure that the accrediting body meets specific standards established by Congress. The Secretary of Education for the ED is charged with review of accrediting bodies and providing recognition to those accrediting agencies that meet the Secretary of Education’s criteria. Students in institutions or programs accredited by a ED-recognized agency are eligible for federal financial aid assistance and other needed resources.
Agencies seeking initial recognition must demonstrate compliance with regulatory criteria including eligibility requirements, types of standards agencies must have in place, and other criteria the granting body uses to determine an agency's effectiveness in carrying out its oversight of higher education institutions and programs.
Once recognized, an agency is subject to ongoing monitoring and must apply for re-recognition on a pre-determined review cycle.
Recognition is similar to accreditation and involves a multi-layered process to determine whether an accrediting agency is in compliance with requirements set by the ED or CHEA. For example, please see an overview of the USDE process below.