Overseeing the Overseers: Can Federal Oversight of Accreditation Improve Student Outcomes?

Since the 1960s, the accreditation process and accreditors have played an important gatekeeping function for institutions’ access to federal student financial aid. Recognizing this role, Congress and the Department of Education have introduced and modified federal requirements and oversight of accreditors to ensure that these gatekeepers are protecting students and public dollars.

While these federal interventions are clearly shifting the ways in which accreditors operate and interact with the federal government, there is little research conducted on the effects of the policy changes on the institutions and students subject to accreditation.

This report from Ithaka S+R examines the relationship between the changes in federal oversight of accreditors and outcomes at the accreditor and institutional level.