Accreditation: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
The Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT) is committed to providing the best possible education for our students. This commitment is lived out in many ways: the quality of the faculty, the quality of the curriculum, the quality of practicum and internship experience. These and many other pastoral and educational concerns are driven by ILT’s desire to provide the highest level of pastoral and academic training and education. This commitment includes the necessity of external evaluation and assessment. The primary way this has been achieved is through accreditation. ILT is accredited through the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). This accreditation gives ILT standing with both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Accreditation is important because it provides ILT with an external evaluation. The desire to offer a good education to students is not enough. Evaluation and improvement must be a continuous part of the daily process of excellence. This cannot happen through internal structures alone. It must be accompanied by an external review. ABHE does this for ILT. The accreditation process did much to raise the standard of services offered to students. Importantly, it has also opened opportunities to participate in different programs and agencies as well.
One part of this commitment is to financial responsibility and transparency. As a part of this, financial data is not only presented on the website, but ILT goes through an annual independent audit and then reports this financial data on GuideStar. This is important because of the number of donations ILT receives each year. ILT is committed to highest standards of financial responsibility.
Another way ILT is keeping its commitment to responsibility and transparency is by voluntarily reports to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS is the governmental data collection source for all higher education institutions. This not only gives ILT external agency in reporting, but it also makes ILT’s data public and compares it to other schools using standardized metrics.
Accreditation has also given ILT the opportunity to join the American Council on Education (ACE). This organization is a coordinating body for higher education institutions that works to bring these institutional together to collaborate on shared goals. This membership lists ILT among other institutions and provides ILT with resources it can use to continue to grow. This membership also allows ILT to provide the military chaplaincy program.
Accreditation also allows ILT students to take advantage of veteran’s educational benefits. The VA provides funding for veterans’ education. Veterans can only use this funding for qualified schools. Schools must go through an application process to prove that they meet all the qualifications required by the VA. ILT was able to go through this process and was approved recently. Veterans can now study at ILT and use their VA education benefits to pay for tuition, books, and some living expenses.
Accreditation has also allowed ILT to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). This is very important because online schools are required to seek permission to operate in every state in which students live. The state requirements for online schools vary dramatically from state to state, as does the cost for permission to operate. Through NC-SARA ILT pays a minimum fee each year to have permission to operate in 49 of the 50 states. Now ILT can offer its programs anywhere in the US without having to contact each state individually (which we had been doing!).
The opportunities for growth that the accreditation process brought to ILT cannot be overstated. ILT has been growing very quickly as an institution, and the accreditation process has given an outside view of the progress that has been made. As ILT continues to grow, it will continue in this commitment and to its dedication to excellence.
We hope that this news will further your commitment to the ILT family. God bless!