Department of Education Aims to Reform Accreditation Credentials

Jan 18, 2019

The Department of Education (Dept. of Ed) recently released a set of recommendations that look to reform a set of rules pertaining to accreditation and how higher education institutions qualify for federal financial aid. These rules fall under the Higher Education Act, which is due to be reauthorized.

The Dept. of Ed. asserts that amending that these new recommendations will help spur innovation by reducing federal oversight over higher education institutions. They will also provide accrediting bodies with greater flexibility in determining which schools and programs should receive financial aid. The end goal of these recommendations is entice higher education institutions to create more-affordable opportunities for students to receive an education.

For an institution to qualify for federal financial aid, it must be accredited.  The new recommendations include reducing the number of requirements currently in place for colleges and universities to operate online across state lines, implementing rules for distance learning, changing how religiously affiliated colleges and universities are treated by accreditors, and changing the administration of federal grants for students who intend to teach in the classroom.

The negotiated rule-making process for these recommendations began this week. Due to the wide spectrum of topics that these recommendations comprise, the Dept. of Ed established an Accreditation and Innovation main committee and three subcommittees: Distance Learning and Educational Innovation Subcommittee, TEACH Grants Subcommittee, and the Faith-Based Entities Subcommittee.  If these committees cannot reach a consensus on what the new rules should be, the Dept. of Ed will step in and make the final determination.

To view the recently released recommendations, click here: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2018/index.html