Every year, millions of people enroll in online colleges and universities for a variety of reasons. Convenience, flexibility and costs are all deciding factors that motivate people to enroll in online colleges and universities. However, what stops most people from enrolling in an online program is the perception that online colleges are not accredited. Rest assured, there are many reputable online schools out there that have accreditation from the same accrediting bodies that sanction large, well renowned universities and colleges.

How do I know if these schools are accredited?

The first thing you should do as a prospective student is thoroughly research the school’s website to see if you can retrieve any accreditation information. If the information is not listed, call the admissions department and ask a counselor or coordinator for their accreditation information. For a school to accept you and receive financial aid from the United States Department of Education, they will definitely need to be accredited by a regional education association. This is a necessity for both online and traditional brick-and-mortar universities.

Check with regional education associations

If you are having difficulties determining whether or not your online degree program is accredited, you should immediately contact a regional education association to gain more information. These accrediting bodies every year evaluate a school’s faculty, coursework and school resources to determine whether or not the school is actually legitimate. Many schools sometimes deliberately hide their accreditation status in fear that their enrollment numbers will drop. The regional education association will have a list of schools and universities that are approved, under evaluation or under suspension.

Check with United States Department of Education

The United States Department of Education has been very ferocious in trying to educate students about the rise in diploma mills and shady online schools and universities. They know that many of these types of institutions prey upon students simply to take advantage of their financial aid. Because of this reason, the United States Department of Education has a list of sanctioned schools that are allowed to receive funds from loan making institutions like Sallie Mae. If your online degree program is not sanctioned by the Department of Education, you will not be eligible to receive financial aid.

In the end, there are a host of online schools and colleges that are legitimately accredited and will gladly share their accreditation credentials with you if you voice any concerns. If for some odd reason you find it difficult to retrieve this information from the school, it is recommended to look for another option. Accreditation is something to be proud of and no quality university would try to hide it for any reason. There are plenty of reputable and well-renown online schools that offer great online degree programs in a wide variety of fields. Just do careful research and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Further Reading: Online Degree Programs: How to Tell the Good From the Bad

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