NAICU Washington Update

Department Seeks Persistence/Graduation Ideas, Looks Ahead to New Neg-reg Round

June 29, 2009

The Department of Education wrapped up the last of three public forums in late June that examined persistence and degree attainment issues.  Independent colleges have a good track record in retaining and graduating students from all backgrounds, and have much to contribute to discussions of federal policies directed toward these issues.  The forums -- held in Denver, Little Rock, and Philadelphia -- were a starting point for gathering ideas about how an appropriate federal role might be shaped.  NAICU member president Jacqueline Doud, Mount St. Mary's College, participated in the persistence/degree attainment forum in Denver. 

These forums, along with forums dealing with financial aid simplification (see separate story), were combined with public hearings in preparation for a new round of negotiated rulemaking.  This new round will involve the formation of two neg-reg teams:  one dealing with the regulation of foreign schools, and another dealing with program integrity.  Among the topics the integrity will cover are satisfactory academic progress, incentive compensation, the definition of "gainful employment in a recognized occupation," and the definition of a credit hour.

The announcement of the department's intent to look at these issues, which are problematic for many for-profit schools, caused the stock price of some publicly-traded schools to drop temporarily.  In response to a bevy of calls from security analysts, the department reviewed the notice with them via conference call (reportedly 500 participated).  The department earlier held conference calls with representatives of the traditional-sector associations, and with those for the proprietary schools.

Now that the public hearings are completed, the department will publish additional information on the specific subjects areas for negotiation, and will issue a request for nominations for individual negotiators from affected groups.

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