NAICU Washington Update

More Regulatory Changes on Agenda at the Department of Education

May 10, 2018

The Trump Administration, which has vowed to reduce regulations affecting institutions of higher education, has released an updated agenda detailing a new series of rulemaking changes at the Department of Education. The Department is seeking to issue new or amended regulations affecting innovative postsecondary programs, religious schools (here and here), accreditation, state authorization, and state authorization of distance education.  These are in addition to the revisions already underway for rules governing gainful employment, borrower defense to repayment, and Title IX.

As part of this effort, the Department is planning to establish a series of negotiated rulemaking committees to draft new regulations in these areas. For example, a committee will be formed to write new or revised rules allowing greater access to federal aid for students who attend “high-quality, innovative programs of postsecondary education.” Another panel will rewrite Title IV regulations applicable to religious colleges and universities in order to make it easier for such institutions to qualify for federal student aid funding and to simplify restrictions on how such funds may be used.

The Department is also planning to revise the rules governing accreditation, state authorization of institutions of higher education, and state authorization of distance education programs and foreign branch campuses. All of these changes would be conducted via negotiated rulemaking. The Department has announced a delay in implementation of the state authorization of distance education regulations, which are scheduled to go into effect on July 1. However, aside from the limited details set forth in the regulatory agenda, the full scope and timing of these proposed changes are currently unclear.

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