According to the U.S. Department of Education, an accredited institution "helps ensure the training or education you get meets employer standards in a specific field." In other words, an accredited institution is recognized as a valuable place to receive an education. There are several advantages that come from attending an accredited institution, such as the opportunity for financial aid, classes that help teach you the skills necessary to succeed in a career and the ability to transfer credits you have earned to another school.
The two types of educational accreditation are referred to as "institutional" and "specialized." According to the U.S. Department of Education, institutional accreditation indicates that the entire institution is accredited and meets quality and credibility standards. Specialized accreditation simply refers to parts of an accredited institution, such as programs or schools within the university. The specialized accreditation may be as small as a curriculum within a field of study or as large as a school within the university.
Financial Aid Eligibility
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 85 percent of all undergraduates received some sort of financial aid in 2016-16. If you are considering an education from an unaccredited college but will also need financial assistance, it is important to keep in mind that students who do not attend an accredited institution cannot receive any federal financial aid. Additionally, state education agencies may also withhold financial aid if the school you attend is unaccredited, as stated on the Federal Student Aid website.
Transferable Credits that Count
Chances are, any credits you have earned at an unaccredited school will not be recognized by an accredited institution if you decide to transfer. For example, if you have completed classes at an unaccredited school but later decide you wanted to finish your degree at an accredited institution, the accredited institution may require you to retake those classes, which will not only set you back on the time it takes for you to complete your degree, but will also set you back on both your effort and money spent in completing those unaccredited classes.
Jobs Skills that are Relevant
According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, accreditation "signals to prospective employers that a student's program has met widely accepted standards." Because an accredited institution has been verified for its quality education, earning a degree from an accredited institution adds value and quality to that degree, whereas an unaccredited institution may not have high academic standards and may not teach you the essential skills needed in a job.