The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is the regional accrediting association responsible for educational institutions in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Panama. The Commission on Higher Education (CHE) is the unit that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region.
Accreditation is a means of self-regulation and peer review adopted by members of the educational community. In the United States, there are six regional accrediting associations, each responsible for a specific geographic area. Institutions choose to apply for accredited status. Once accredited, they agree to abide by the standards of their accrediting organization and to regulate themselves by taking responsibility for their own improvement. In addition, the federal government requires that an institution be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting organization in order for its students to be eligible to receive financial aid.
After initial accreditation, institutions must undergo a thorough reaccreditation every ten years, with a five-year Periodic Review Report due midway between ten-year reaccreditations. SUNY Cortland completed its last ten-year review in 2012 and is scheduled to submit its next Periodic Review Report to Middle States in 2017.
As Middle States affirms: "The accrediting process is intended to strengthen and sustain the quality and integrity of higher education, making it worthy of public confidence. The extent to which each educational institution accepts and fulfills the responsibilities inherent in this process is a measure of its concern for freedom and quality in higher education and of its commitment to strive for and achieve excellence in its endeavors."