Antioch College has been named a candidate for accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission, the school announced Monday.
The school also was granted a request for early initial accreditation, which means that a decision about whether the school will receive accreditation could happen as early as June 2016 — two years earlier than the traditional path.
Being named a candidate means students will have access to federal financial aid, including loans and Pell Grants, and that will create a new revenue stream for the school.
College President Mark Roosevelt said that the school is the only liberal arts college in the country seeking accreditation. About 25 liberal arts schools close every decade, he said.
“Antioch is sailing against tradition. We’re a 164-year-old start up,” he said.
The candidacy has many positive repercussions, Roosevelt said. The financial aid piece will allow the school to accept more students whose family incomes are not large. Additionally, he said, the school now can accept international students.
“It’s a great step and an essential step,” he said.
The designation is an important one for the school that closed in 2008 after financial problems. Antioch re-opened in 2011.
First-year student Frank Fortino said the prospect of accreditation is “extremely exciting.”
“It’s important for the school,” he said. “It means bringing in more students and being eligible for federal financial aid. It helps the school to grow.
“We’re moving together as a group.”
To be considered for candidacy, the school had to submit a self study. The Higher Learning Commission considered that self study and a report of a comprehensive evaluation team, a report by the Institutional Actions Council hearing committee and the college’s responses to the reports.
Roosevelt said the school will have to complete another self study, and another site team will come to the college to examine the school’s pedagogy and finances. Accreditors, he said, look to make sure you’re doing what you say you’re going to do and your ability to do it.
“It’s just exhale for one minute and then start going again,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. But fast-track is nothing but positives for us.”
The school will offer a half-tuition Horace Mann Fellowship and other need-based aid for all students admitted to the entering class of 2015, according to the release from the school. The school received authorization from the Ohio Board of Regents in May 2011 to grant bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees.