SACSCOC and Accreditation FAQ
Accreditation assures constituents and the public that higher educational institutions' quality and integrity meet acceptable standards. These results are obtained through rigorous internal and external peer review processes in which the institution is assessed against common standards. When SACSCOC), recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE), grants accreditation to a higher education institution, it means the institution has (1) an appropriate mission; (2) sufficient resources, programs, and services to achieve and sustain it; and (3) specified educational objectives that are consistent with the mission. SACSCOC accreditation demonstrates the institution's ongoing commitment to quality and integrity and its ability to deliver effective programs and services per agreed-upon accreditation standards.
Accredited status with an institutional accreditor recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) allows institutions to apply for student federal financial aid funds.
The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) accredits degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices primarily among the diverse institutions that award associate, baccalaureate, master's, or doctoral degrees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Latin America, as well as certain other international sites approved by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees. The Commission also accepts membership applications from domestic institutions in the remaining thirty-nine states and international institutions of higher education worldwide.
The decennial reaffirmation of accreditation is an institution's most extensive review. The decennial Report contains seventy-nine standards. South Georgia State College submits a Compliance Certification report during the decennial reaffirmation report process, which is reviewed by an off-site committee (institutions have no input on the members of the Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee).
The Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee will review the Compliance Certification. Each Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee is typically in charge of a cluster of three institutions, grouped as closely as possible by level (highest degree offered) and type of control (public/private). The Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee's role is to make a preliminary determination of compliance for each of the Compliance Certification standards.
South Georgia State College receives the outcome of the off-site review and any necessary follow-up to items deemed non-compliant. Any follow-up is completed before an on-site visit the following spring.
The On-Site Reaffirmation Committee's responsibilities are more varied than the Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee's single duty of reviewing the Compliance Certification and the Preliminary Report. Like the Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee, the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee is expected to examine and evaluate the institution's mission, policies, procedures, programs, resources, services, and other activities as they support compliance with the remaining standards.
The On-Site Reaffirmation Committee also examines specific standards referred to in federal regulations and associated with USDE accreditor recognition. Furthermore, the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee oversees reviewing Standard 7.2. (Quality Enhancement Plan). This Committee, where applicable, performs two additional tasks: (1) visiting the Waycross campus and the Valdosta Early Entry program and (2) reviewing issues arising from third-party comments, if any. Finally, the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee will review the Integrity Principle (Core Requirement 1.1). In contrast to the Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee, the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee verbally presents its findings to the institution during an Exit Conference and in writing in the Reaffirmation Committee's finalized Report.
Reaffirmation is finalized at the June SACSCOC Board of Trustees meeting, and decisions are announced at the following December SACSCOC Annual Meeting. Following the Annual Meeting, where the results are announced in January, a letter is received documenting the official results of the decennial process.
Reaffirmation is every ten years, with an interim report submitted to SACSCOC in the fifth year.