Reporting Substantive Changes to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Administrative Rule
Council: Academic and Student Affairs Council
Effective date: 04/13/16
Guideline/Procedure: 7.1100.01.1

Value Statement

Austin Community College District values its accredited status with the Southern Association of

Colleges and Schools-Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The College is committed to adhering to all SACSCOC Principles and Policies, including those related to substantive changes.

Administrative Rule


The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges grants accreditation to an entire institution and its programs and services, wherever they are located or however they are delivered. SACSCOC requires an institution to seek and receive approval prior to the initiation of a substantive change so that the change can be included in the institution’s scope of accreditation.

In accordance with SACSCOC policies and timelines, Austin Community College will notify SACSCOC of substantive changes prior to implementation. Austin Community College will request approval of substantive changes, when required by SACSCOC policies.

Timely Reporting of Substantive Changes to SACSCOC

Austin Community College will report substantive changes to SACSCOC and request approval of these changes when necessary in a timely manner.

  1. The College’s instructional departments, administrative departments, committees, and councils will identify and report all potential substantive changes to the College’s Accreditation Liaison or his/her designee, prior to the planned implementation date as outlined in this administrative rule’s guidelines and procedures.
  2. Instructional departments, administrative departments, committees, and councils regularly involved with substantive changes will create systematic procedures to identify and report substantive changes with the guidance of the Accreditation Liaison or his/her designee.
  3. Instructional and administrative departments will provide information required for SACSCOC letters of notification and prospectuses in a timely manner to the Accreditation Liaison or his/her designee.


Responsibility for notifying/seeking approval from SACSCOC of substantive changes that have occurred or will occur officially rests with the ACC Accreditation Liaison. Responsibility for institutional compliance with its own substantive change policy as well as compliance with all other SACSCOC policies rests with ACC administration.

Professional Development

The Accreditation Liaison and his/her designee will provide the College with educational opportunities to learn about all SACSCOC policy requirements.

Publicizing Substantive Changes

  1. Publications which reference substantive changes going through the SACSCOC review process must include the following disclaimer: “This represents a ‘substantive change’ and is pending Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges approval.”
  2. SACSCOC accredits Austin Community College as an institution, as a whole.
    SACSCOC does not accredit individual programs or locations.


Documentation submitted to SACSCOC regarding substantive changes will be posted on the College’s SACSCOC website (


Substantive change”- a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution including but not limited to:

  • Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution
  • Any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution
  • The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated
  • The addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution’s current accreditation or reaffirmation.
  • A change from clock hours to credit hours
  • A substantial increase in the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program
  • The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50% of an educational program
  • The establishment of a branch campus
  • Closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus or institution
  • Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes only the initiation of a dual or joint academic program with another institution
  • Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution
  • Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution
  • Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs

“Accreditation Liaison”- the college employee appointed by the President to oversee the college’s compliance with SACSCOC accreditation requirements and policies.

Program” – a sequence of credit courses that result in an Associate’s degree or Certificate (Certificates include Level I, Level II, Enhanced Skills, and Advanced Technical). The term “program” is interchangeable with the term “award.”

“Significant Departure”– a program that is not closely related to previously approved programs at the institution or site or for the mode of delivery in question. To determine whether a new program is a significant departure, it is helpful to consider the following questions:

  • What previously approved programs does the institution offer that are closely related to the new program and how are they related?
  • Will significant additional equipment or facilities be needed?
  • Will significant additional financial resources be needed?
  • Will a significant number of new courses will be required?
  • Will a significant number of new faculty members will be required?
  • Will significant additional library/learning resources be needed?

“Location”– ACC has no main or branch campuses and reports only off-site teaching locations to SACSCOC. By SACSCOC definition, ACC’s comprehensive campuses are considered off-site teaching locations.

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