Types of Higher Education Colleges and Universities in USA



Higher education in US – types of colleges and universities

There are 3 types of higher education institutions granting tertiary (or post-secondary or high school) degrees. To be eligible for receiving student aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Amendments of 1992, you must meet the following criteria (1):

(a) be an eligible student;

(b) study at an eligible higher education institution; and

(c) be enrolled in an eligible program at the institution.

The types of eligible higher education institutions consist of the colleges and universities outlined below. The definitions are extracted from the National Center for Education Statistics (2) based on the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34 – Education (3).

 

Eligible Title IV higher education institutions

1. Public institutions

An educational institution whose programs and activities are operated by publicly elected or appointed school officials which is supported primarily by public funds.

2. Private institutions

An educational institution controlled by a private individual(s) or by a nongovernmental agency, usually supported primarily by other than public funds, and operated by other than publicly elected or appointed officials. These institutions may be either for-profit or not-for-profit:

(a) Private not-for-profit institutions

A private institution in which the individual(s) or agency in control receives no compensation, other than wages, rent, or other expenses for the assumption of risk. These include both independent not-for-profit schools and those affiliated with a religious organization.

(b) Private for-profit institutions

A private institution in which the individual(s) or agency in control receives compensation other than wages, rent, or other expenses for the assumption of risk.

 

Eligible types of Title IV educational programs

The 3 types of institutions are further categorized by the types of educational programs that they offer. The programs which are eligible for federal student aid under Title IV consists of the following:

  • institutions that offer associate, baccalaureate, graduate and professional degree;
  • institutions that offer at least 2 year programs leading to a baccalaureate degree; and
  • institutions that offer non-degree credentials that prepare students for gainful employment.

1. Four-year institutions

These are educational institutions authorized to award bachelor or professional degrees or higher, generally a college or university.

2. Two-year institutions

These are educational institutions authorized to award associate degrees, 2-year or longer certificates, usually a community or technical college.

3. Less than two-year institutions

These are educational institutions authorized to award certificates that are typically obtained in less than 2 years such as licensed practical nurse certificates or cosmetology.

 


  1. The Higher Education Amendments Act of 1992 authorizes federal student aid programs for eligible students enrolled in eligible programs in eligible higher education institutions.
  2. National Center for Education Statistics 2017, Institution type definitions, College Navigator, <https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d16/tables/dt16_317.10.asp>
  3. Cornell University Law School 2017, Section 600.2, Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Legal Information Institute, <https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/34/600.2>


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