NAICU Washington Update

Higher Ed, Accreditation Communities Urge Rescission of New State Authorization Regs

March 04, 2011

NAICU is among the 60 higher education associations and accrediting organizations urging Education Secretary Arne Duncan to rescind a regulation that expands federal requirements related to state authorization. The changes are to take effect on July 1, although that effective date may be extended for states needing additional time to amend their laws.

The groups weighed in strongly against the new provisions during the public comment period on the regulation.  In response, the Department made a number of changes to its proposed regulation.  However, the changes failed to resolve questions about the application of the state authorization provisions in general.  The changes also raised a whole new set of questions on their specific application to institutions offering distance education.

Beyond these issues, NAICU remains concerned that states could use the expanded provisions as an excuse to set up new oversight of private, not-for-profit colleges, even though the sole requirement in the law is to grant the colleges authority to operate as postsecondary institutions.

The March 2 letter reiterates the serious concerns of institutions and accreditors about the new requirements.  It follows on the heels of a similar letter, also signed by a group of associations, on continuing concerns about the federal definition of "credit hour" in the same set of program integrity regulations. (See Feb. 19 Washington Update story)  As with the credit hour issue, Department officials now better understand the community's concerns, but haven't taken steps to address them.

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