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The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity: Overview and Resources
Article • Last updated on Feb 23, 2023

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity: Overview and Resources

This page contains facts and resources about the role the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity plays within the accreditation system.

The U.S. Department of Education building is pictured in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Department of Education building is pictured in Washington, D.C., July 2020. (Getty/Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call Inc.)

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This page may be updated with new information on meeting dates, staff reports, and other relevant materials on NACIQI and accreditation as released. 

In order for a college or university to receive federal student aid, such as Pell Grants and student loans, it must be accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. In this way, accrediting agencies play a vital role in guarding taxpayer dollars as well as in ensuring academic quality. Through the recognition process, the department can assess how well an accrediting agency has fulfilled this role. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) represents an important part of that process.

Established under Section 114 of the Higher Education Act, NACIQI is an independent bipartisan advisory body that evaluates accreditors and ensures the academic quality of institutions of higher education. The committee reviews 63 agencies at least once every five years and uses the department’s final report, supporting documents, and comments made at each public committee meeting to make recommendations to the secretary of education on each accreditor’s recognition application.

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However, this process is often confusing for both the participants and members of NACIQI. Some of this confusion stems from changes made to the accreditation process by former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and others in the Trump administration. The committee has taken steps to make better use of data in assessing accreditor performance through the creation of accreditor dashboards and other initiatives; however, NACIQI could play a stronger role in the recognition process if Congress or the department granted it more authority.

This page provides an overview of the role NACIQI plays within the accreditation system and provides the information needed to stay up to date on meetings, staff analyses, regulations, and other resources to get involved.

When does NACIQI meet?

NACIQI meets twice per year, usually in the winter and summer. NACIQI meetings are published on the Federal Register website. This publication must occur at least 30 days before the meeting is scheduled to take place. An archive of all NACIQI meetings is available here.

Previous NACIQI meetings

Winter 2022 meeting (virtual)

Summer 2022 meeting (virtual)

What happens before a NACIQI meeting?

Prior to a NACIQI meeting, the department provides members of the committee with the following information:

  • An accrediting agency’s application, such as recognition or renewal, or compliance report
  • The final departmental staff analysis of the agency’s application, which may include reviews of complaints and legal actions, reviews of agency documents, and information gathered from site visits, among other things
  • Third-party written comments that the department received
  • The accrediting agency’s response to the department’s draft analysis and response to third-party comments
  • Information that may have been used in forming the department’s analysis

The department must also publish a notice inviting oral comments in the Federal Register at least 30 days in advance of the NACIQI meeting.

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What happens after a NACIQI meeting?

After a NACIQI meeting, the committee sends its recommendation to the senior department official, as appointed by the secretary of education to make decisions regarding recognition of an agency. A recommendation may include approving an application for recognition or renewal, suspending or terminating recognition, or requiring a compliance report.

An accrediting agency and department staff also have the opportunity to submit written comments to the senior department official. These comments must be based on NACIQI’s recommendation and meet certain parameters. In addition, comments submitted by an accrediting agency or department staff must be submitted to the senior department official, and to one another, within 10 business days of the NACIQI meeting.

Current NACIQI members

NACIQI’s membership comprises 18 members: six, including a student member, chosen by the secretary of education, six chosen by the U.S. House of Representatives, and six chosen by the U.S. Senate. To ensure balance, half the members selected by Congress are nominated by the minority, and the other half are selected by the majority.

Members appointed by the secretary of education with terms expiring September 30, 2025:

  • Wallace E. Boston, Ph.D., president emeritus, American Public University System Inc., Charles Town, West Virginia
    Appointed by Secretary Betsy DeVos
  • Keith Curry, Ed.D., president/CEO, Compton College, Compton, California
    Appointed by Secretary Miguel Cardona
  • David A. Eubanks, Ph.D., assistant vice president of the Office of Institutional Assessment and Research, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina
    Appointed by Secretary Betsy DeVos
  • Molly E. Hall-Martin, Ph.D., director of W-SARA, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), Boulder, Colorado
    Appointed by Secretary Miguel Cardona
  • D. Michael Lindsay, Ph.D., president, Taylor University, Upland, Indiana
    Appointed by Secretary Betsy DeVos
  • Mary Ellen Petrisko, Ph.D., former president, WASC Senior College and University Commission, Pittsburgh
    Appointed by Secretary Betsy DeVos

Members appointed by the U.S. House of Representatives with terms expiring September 30, 2026:

  • Kathleen Sullivan Alioto, Ed.D., strategic adviser, fundraiser, and consultant, New York, San Francisco, and Boston
    Appointed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • Roslyn Clark Artis, Ed.D., president, Benedict College, Columbia, South Carolina
    Appointed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • Jennifer Blum, J.D., principal, Blum Higher Education Advising PLLC, Washington, D.C.
    Appointed by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • Arthur E. Keiser, Ph.D., chancellor, Keiser University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    Appointed by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • Robert Mayes Jr., CEO, Columbia Southern Education Group, Elberta, Alabama
    Appointed by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • Robert Shireman, director of higher education excellence and senior fellow, The Century Foundation, Berkeley, California
    Appointed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Members appointed by the U.S. Senate with terms expiring September 30, 2028:

  • Debbie Cochrane, bureau chief, California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education, Alameda, California
    Appointed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
  • Zakiya Smith Ellis, Ed.D., principal, Education Counsel, Atlanta
    Appointed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
  • Michael Poliakoff, Ph.D., president, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Washington, D.C.
    Appointed by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • Claude O. Pressnell Jr., Ed.D., president, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, Nashville, Tennessee
    Appointed by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • José Luis Cruz Rivera, Ph.D., president, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona
    Appointed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
  • Vacant

What happens after the senior department official receives NACIQI’s recommendation?

Once the senior department official receives NACIQI’s recommendation and other relevant materials—such as transcripts and written comments—also known as the record, the senior department official makes a decision to:

  • Approve an application for recognition based on an accrediting agency’s compliance with the criteria for recognition. The recognition period may not exceed five years.
  • Limit, suspend, deny, or terminate recognition if the accrediting agency fails to comply with the criteria for recognition. The senior department official must specify the reasons for denying, limiting, terminating, or suspending an accrediting agency’s recognition.
  • Continue an accrediting agency’s recognition and require the agency to submit a compliance report for review if the official believes that an agency is noncompliant but can show compliance in the future. Usually, the agency must submit the report within one year, although it may be granted a longer timeline if the official can show good cause or exceptional circumstances.
  • Continue recognition but require monitoring reports if the official believes that the accrediting agency is compliant with the criteria for recognition but is concerned about the ability of the accrediting agency to continue its compliance.
  • Grant or deny an accrediting agency’s request for an expansion of scope.
  • Revise or reaffirm an agency’s scope.

The senior department official must notify the agency in writing within 90 days of the NACIQI meeting with their decision regarding the agency’s recognition, although certain exceptions may apply, such as lack of funding or insufficient number of members.

Unless an accrediting agency appeals, the senior department official’s decision represents the final decision on behalf of the secretary of education.

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What happens if an agency appeals the senior department official’s decision?

If an agency appeals the senior department official’s decision, the following steps are taken:

  • Within 10 business days of receiving the official’s decision, the accrediting agency must notify, in writing, both the secretary of education and the senior department official of the agency’s intent to appeal.
  • Within 30 business days of receiving the decision, the accrediting agency must submit its appeal to the secretary of education in writing.
  • Within 30 days of receiving the appeal, the senior department official may submit a written response to an agency’s appeal.

In making a final decision, the secretary of education will consider the accrediting agency’s appeal; the senior department official’s response, if submitted; the senior department official’s decision; and the record the senior department official reviewed in reaching their decision. The secretary of education may refer a matter back to the senior department official under certain circumstances. An accrediting agency may only challenge the secretary’s final decision through the federal courts.

Additional NACIQI resources
Accreditation resources
Data resources
Regulations resources

This resource page has been published with contributions from Marissa Alayna Navarro, Jared C. Bass, and Stephanie Michelle Hall.

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