CHEA HEA Update Logo Number 11, May 14, 2004

The new Higher Education Act (HEA) bill introduced last week by Republican leaders John Boehner (OH) and Buck McKeon (CA) has created a strong and largely negative reaction in the higher education community. Our CHEA Update # 9 describes the major accreditation provisions of the bill, HR 4283. While this comprehensive legislative proposal covers a broad range of student aid and other federal programs, the accreditation and transfer of credit provisions have gotten a great deal of the attention.

On May 10, 2004, CHEA released a comprehensive analysis of the accreditation provisions of HR 4283 (Update # 10). This detailed our concerns and suggested contacts with the sponsors of the bill objecting to its provisions on accreditation. Strong concerns on these same provisions have also been expressed by other national associations, including ACE, AAU, NASULGC, NAICU, UNCF, CGS and AJCU.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on HR 4283 on May 12, 2004, but only considered the loan and grant provisions. Committee Chair John Boehner said that he and his colleagues were open to improvements in the bill. He also announced that another hearing would be held in June. This signals a delay at least until mid-June in the formal Committee actions on adopting or amending the actual language of the bill. The Committee staff met that same afternoon with education associations to review their support and their concerns for the elements of the bill. Accreditation issues were prominent among the concerns. The Committee staff requested, and the associations agreed to provide, concrete suggestions in legislative language for addressing concerns. A May 26, 2004 deadline was set for this response. CHEA and many others are working on this task, and we welcome your views and input.

Congressional Contact – Talking Points

Our Update # 10 (see link above) urged like-minded parties to contact the Congress and also said that CHEA would keep you advised. It provides more specifics on the issues listed below. We urge you to make any or all of the following points and request changes in the bill:

  • HR 4283, as introduced, moves away from the proper balance of voluntary accreditation and government controls over higher education.
  • Transfer of credit provisions direct institutional action on academic decisions; federal law should not do so.
  • Likewise, some of the distance education provisions direct institutional and accreditation action on academic matters; federal law should not do so.
  • Changes in student achievement go too far when they require institutions to publish written learning objectives for their programs.
  • New reporting requirements on accreditation and consumer information are excessive, redundant, costly, and may damage the operations of accreditation.
  • Other accreditation related provisions of HR 4283 are objectionable, such as allowing state agencies to become recognized accreditors, the “Academic Bill of Rights,” and the new requirement that accreditors examine the governance of institutions.

You may contact Mr. Boehner and Mr. McKeon at:

Committee on Education and the Workforce
U. S. House of Representatives
2181 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-4527

Those with special contacts with other members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee should send them the same message. Information on the committee membership and the text of HR 4283 can be found on the committee website at You can also contact your own Member of Congress with the same message and urge them to contact John Boehner and Buck McKeon.


This Update will inform interested parties on developments in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). It was prepared by Gregory Fusco, Vice President for Government and Public Affairs at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA®). Please direct any inquiries or comments to or to (202) 955-6126.

Copyright 2004 Council for Higher Education Accreditation. All rights reserved.