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Frequently Asked Questions

More on PSC’s accreditation model, priorities, and organization.

What kinds of institutions does the Postsecondary Commission accredit?

The Postsecondary Commission will seek recognition from the US Department of Education as an institutional accreditor with Title IV gatekeeping authority. PSC expects to accredit US-based institutions with a wide range of degree and certificate types, across a wide range of fields of study. Institutions accredited by PSC will produce high rates of economic mobility for their students.

Is the Postsecondary Commission a federally recognized accreditor?

No, not yet. PSC has published its standards and accreditation model and expects, over the next several years, to partner with institutions to practice and refine this model. At the end of that process, PSC will file with the US Department of Education its application for federal recognition as an accreditor. That application will go through several stages of review at the Department and before the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, an advisory committee.

Why does PSC prioritize economic mobility outcomes?

Students and families choose higher education for a variety of reasons. Getting a good job and economic security are repeatedly at the top of the list. PSC prioritizes economic mobility because of this and the belief that degrees should pay off in a reasonable timeframe.

How does PSC measure economic mobility?

Value-added Earnings: PSC requires that institutions produce wage gains for cohorts of entering students (including both eventual completers and non-completers) that exceed the costs they charge those students. PSC measures wage gains as the difference between the actual wages of students and a baseline estimate of the wages those same students would have experienced if they had not enrolled in further higher education.
Absolute Earnings: In addition, and to protect students who encounter very low wages in the job market even if they have received the required wage gains to cover their costs, PSC requires that institutions’ graduates – at a minimum – have wages that exceed 150% of the federal poverty line.

How will PSC hold institutions accountable?

PSC is committed to holding institutions accountable for student outcomes as a way to protect students who invest time and money in higher education and taxpayers who help finance higher education. PSC has a particularly robust audit and ongoing monitoring process to track progress toward outcomes, and explicitly calls out a variety of negative actions that could be taken toward an institution if it fails to meet its bright line performance targets.

Who funds the Postsecondary Commission?

The Postsecondary Commission is a non-profit organization that receives funding from individuals and foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation.

What institutions are you currently working with?

PSC is currently partnering with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) to apply its accreditation model. We expect to have additional partners in the coming years.

How is PSC prioritizing consumer protection?

PSC has in place a number of policies designed to protect consumer and taxpayer investments. First, PSC’s two bright line student achievement standards – the absolute earnings standard and the value-added earnings standard – combined ensure that students will know that their degree will provide them with a wage gain great enough to pay off their educational costs in a reasonable timeframe. Second, PSC’s transparency requirements and accountability provisions ensure that students know the outcomes of the programs they are considering and know that an institution accredited by PSC will be held accountable for those outcomes. And finally, PSC has a robust process for handling student complaints.

Why does PSC have a fully independent board?

PSC believes that it is important to minimize potential conflicts of interest. PSC’s Commissioners are independent and without any formal ties to any institution that PSC partners with.

Does PSC offer any services outside of accreditation?

Yes. PSC also partners with state agencies, postsecondary institutions, and workforce development organizations to independently evaluate postsecondary outcomes. This service uses the same value-added methodology as the one used in PSC’s accreditation work. The outcomes’ evaluation work is limited to institutions that do not engage with PSC as an accreditor.