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e-CFR data is current as of July 13, 2020

Title 34Subtitle BChapter VIPart 602Subpart B → §602.22


Title 34: Education
PART 602—THE SECRETARY'S RECOGNITION OF ACCREDITING AGENCIES
Subpart B—The Criteria for Recognition


§602.22   Substantive changes and other reporting requirements.

(a)(1) If the agency accredits institutions, it must maintain adequate substantive change policies that ensure that any substantive change, as defined in this section, after the agency has accredited or preaccredited the institution does not adversely affect the capacity of the institution to continue to meet the agency's standards. The agency meets this requirement if—

(i) The agency requires the institution to obtain the agency's approval of the substantive change before the agency includes the change in the scope of accreditation or preaccreditation it previously granted to the institution; and

(ii) The agency's definition of substantive change covers high-impact, high-risk changes, including at least the following:

(A) Any substantial change in the established mission or objectives of the institution or its programs.

(B) Any change in the legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution.

(C) The addition of programs that represent a significant departure from the existing offerings or educational programs, or method of delivery, from those that were offered or used when the agency last evaluated the institution.

(D) The addition of graduate programs by an institution that previously offered only undergraduate programs or certificates.

(E) A change in the way an institution measures student progress, including whether the institution measures progress in clock hours or credit-hours, semesters, trimesters, or quarters, or uses time-based or non-time-based methods.

(F) A substantial increase in the number of clock hours or credit hours awarded, or an increase in the level of credential awarded, for successful completion of one or more programs.

(G) The acquisition of any other institution or any program or location of another institution.

(H) The addition of a permanent location at a site at which the institution is conducting a teach-out for students of another institution that has ceased operating before all students have completed their program of study.

(I) The addition of a new location or branch campus, except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section. The agency's review must include assessment of the institution's fiscal and administrative capability to operate the location or branch campus, the regular evaluation of locations, and verification of the following:

(1) Academic control is clearly identified by the institution.

(2) The institution has adequate faculty, facilities, resources, and academic and student support systems in place.

(3) The institution is financially stable.

(4) The institution had engaged in long-range planning for expansion.

(J) Entering into a written arrangement under 34 CFR 668.5 under which an institution or organization not certified to participate in the title IV, HEA programs offers more than 25 and up to 50 percent of one or more of the accredited institution's educational programs.

(K) Addition of each direct assessment program.

(2)(i) For substantive changes under only paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(C), (E), (F), (H), or (J) of this section, the agency's decision-making body may designate agency senior staff to approve or disapprove the request in a timely, fair, and equitable manner; and

(ii) In the case of a request under paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(J) of this section, the agency must make a final decision within 90 days of receipt of a materially complete request, unless the agency or its staff determine significant circumstances related to the substantive change require a review by the agency's decision-making body to occur within 180 days.

(b) Institutions that have been placed on probation or equivalent status, have been subject to negative action by the agency over the prior three academic years, or are under a provisional certification, as provided in 34 CFR 668.13, must receive prior approval for the following additional changes (all other institutions must report these changes within 30 days to their accrediting agency):

(1) A change in an existing program's method of delivery.

(2) An aggregate change of 25 percent or more of the clock hours, credit hours, or content of a program since the agency's most recent accreditation review.

(3) The development of customized pathways or abbreviated or modified courses or programs to—

(i) Accommodate and recognize a student's existing knowledge, such as knowledge attained through employment or military service; and

(ii) Close competency gaps between demonstrated prior knowledge or competency and the full requirements of a particular course or program.

(4) Entering into a written arrangement under 34 CFR 668.5 under which an institution or organization not certified to participate in the title IV, HEA programs offers up to 25 percent of one or more of the accredited institution's educational programs.

(c) Institutions that have successfully completed at least one cycle of accreditation and have received agency approval for the addition of at least two additional locations as provided in paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(I) of this section, and that have not been placed on probation or equivalent status or been subject to a negative action by the agency over the prior three academic years, and that are not under a provisional certification, as provided in 34 CFR 668.13, need not apply for agency approval of subsequent additions of locations, and must report these changes to the accrediting agency within 30 days, if the institution has met criteria established by the agency indicating sufficient capacity to add additional locations without individual prior approvals, including, at a minimum, satisfactory evidence of a system to ensure quality across a distributed enterprise that includes—

(1) Clearly identified academic control;

(2) Regular evaluation of the locations;

(3) Adequate faculty, facilities, resources, and academic and student support systems;

(4) Financial stability; and

(5) Long-range planning for expansion.

(d) The agency must have an effective mechanism for conducting, at reasonable intervals, visits to a representative sample of additional locations approved under paragraphs (a)(1)(ii)(H) and (I) of this section.

(e) The agency may determine the procedures it uses to grant prior approval of the substantive change. However, these procedures must specify an effective date, on which the change is included in the program's or institution's grant of accreditation or preaccreditation. The date of prior approval must not pre-date either an earlier agency denial of the substantive change, or the agency's formal acceptance of the application for the substantive change for inclusion in the program's or institution's grant of accreditation or preaccreditation. An agency may designate the date of a change in ownership as the effective date of its approval of that substantive change if the accreditation decision is made within 30 days of the change in ownership. Except as provided in paragraphs (d) and (f) of this section, an agency may require a visit before granting such an approval.

(f) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, if the agency's accreditation of an institution enables the institution to seek eligibility to participate in title IV, HEA programs, the agency's procedures for the approval of an additional location that is not a branch campus where at least 50 percent of an educational program is offered must include—

(1) A visit, within six months, to each additional location the institution establishes, if the institution—

(i) Has a total of three or fewer additional locations;

(ii) Has not demonstrated, to the agency's satisfaction, that the additional location is meeting all of the agency's standards that apply to that additional location; or

(iii) Has been placed on warning, probation, or show cause by the agency or is subject to some limitation by the agency on its accreditation or preaccreditation status;

(2) A mechanism for conducting, at reasonable intervals, visits to a representative sample of additional locations of institutions that operate more than three additional locations; and

(3) A mechanism, which may, at the agency's discretion, include visits to additional locations, for ensuring that accredited and preaccredited institutions that experience rapid growth in the number of additional locations maintain education quality.

(g) The purpose of the visits described in paragraph (f) of this section is to verify that the additional location has the personnel, facilities, and resources the institution claimed it had in its application to the agency for approval of the additional location.

(h) The agency's substantive change policy must define when the changes made or proposed by an institution are or would be sufficiently extensive to require the agency to conduct a new comprehensive evaluation of that institution.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)

[84 FR 58922, Nov. 1, 2019]

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