|Number 39, July 25, 2007|
Higher Education Reauthorization: A Senate Bill Introduced and Passed
On Tuesday, July 24, 2007, after weeks of negotiations with the higher education community and a day and a half of debate, the Senate voted 95 to 0 to approve S. 1642 reauthorizing Higher Education Act (HEA). The bill will extend authority for the federal government’s higher education programs for five years. The amended version of this bill is a significant improvement over the committee bill reported out on June 20. Key changes for accreditation in the amended version are:
In the weeks leading up to floor consideration of the bill, Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) staff, Senator Michael Enzi’s (R-WY) staff, Washington higher education associations and accrediting organizations met to discuss the accreditation provisions in S.1642. Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) staff met separately with many of the same groups in an effort to understand and address the concerns of the higher education community and work to improve the bill. These meetings and substantial negotiations brought about major changes in the accreditation section of this legislation.
All of the accreditation-related changes in the final bill are consistent with the 2007 CHEA Reauthorization Agenda as approved by the CHEA Board of Directors. The modifications go a long way toward the CHEA goal of greater accountability, but led by higher education, not by government. CHEA was able to play a significant role in bringing about this welcome result, working closely with the Washington higher education associations and accrediting organizations.
Attached is a chart describing the major accreditation-related provisions of S. 1642. The chart compares current law with S. 1642, including student achievement, transfer of credit, public information, distance education, federally required disclosures, due process, and NACIQI.
Although the Senate has completed its work on reauthorization, the House has yet to write a bill and we are told that the House is likely to take up reauthorization in September. CHEA will continue to work on all accreditation issues of interest and concern.
This Update will inform interested parties on developments in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Please direct any inquiries or comments to Jan Friis, Vice President for Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 955-6126.