NAICU Washington Update

White Papers Released by Senator Alexander Provide Glimpse into HEA Reauthorization

April 08, 2015

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and the lead senator on the rewrite of the Higher Education Act, released three white papers for public comment on March 23. The topics, as well as the papers’ contents, give more insight into the key issues he wishes to address in HEA reauthorization.

Each of the three papers : 1) Higher Education Accreditation: Concepts and Proposals; 2) Risk Sharing: Concepts and Proposals; and 3) Consumer Information: Concepts and Proposals, lays out some of the key proposals that have been discussed around Washington during the past several years. Some of the ideas within the papers conflict with each other, indicating that Sen. Alexander’s views are still forming. Taken as a whole, the papers indicate that Sen. Alexander is seeking a new way to approach institutional accountability that balances deregulation with some sort of financial “skin in the game” for colleges.

Among the more controversial ideas he offers for feedback are removing the requirement that colleges be accredited to participate in Title IV programs, allowing states to be accreditors, breaking the geographic protection of regional accreditors; and requiring colleges to “risk-share” when any of their students default on their student loans.

Comments are due on April 24. NAICU is working with the higher education community on collective comments, and will also be submitting its own comments as needed.

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