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University accreditation: what does it mean

Understanding accreditation and what happens when a school loses it.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — An organization that certifies colleges is raising some concerns about the University of South Carolina and its hiring process for its new president. 

The Southern Association of College and Schools Commissions on Colleges wants to know if there has been any external persons or bodies in the decision making process, and it USC is complying with their guidelines. 

If USC is not complying with those guidelines, then that could jeopardize the school's accreditation. 

News 19's Deep Dive team looked in to what accreditation means, and how losing it would impact USC. 

Accreditation is determined through a series of evaluations to make sure an institution meets the standards of quality education. If the school meets those standards, then they have accreditation. If the school does not meet those standards, then they lose accreditation. 

For USC, association is the regional group that determines if degrees from schools in the southern region are credible. The Council for Higher Education accreditation says this is a major way that students, families and government officials know that a school has a quality education program. 

When a school does not meet accreditation standards, the association says two things can happen. 

Either a school can be issued a warning, which is a monitoring period that the school could be in for up to two years. 

The other is probation. Both of these are when a school fails to correct non-compliance with the principles of accreditation. 

According to the association, during a two year monitoring period, both of these sanctions can last for six to twelve months, with a monitoring report required at the end of the period of the sanction. 

If a school does lose accreditation, it loses state funding, which has causes many schools to close their doors. 

According to USC's website, there are almost 38,000 students enrolled. 88% of students, which is more than 30,000, receive some form of financial aid. the loss of funding would leave many students without a way to pay for their education. 

If you have already received a degree, the diploma and education are still valid. 

However, if you are still working to get your degree, or are planning to attend the university, the loss of accreditation can affect your education and future employment. 

According to their website, USC has almost 6,000 freshman enrolled for this upcoming year.