Bill Introduced in House to Protect Students from Sudden College Closures
BILL TO PROTECT STUDENTS FROM SUDDEN COLLEGE CLOSURES INTRODUCED IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
On October 3, 2019, Representatives Donna Shalala (D-Florida), Peter King (R-New York) and Sean Casten (D-Illinois) introduced a bill aimed at protecting students in the event of the sudden closure of a higher education institution. The Stop College Closures Act of 2019 (H.R. 4615) would require accrediting organizations to:
- Review teach-out plans and agreements when the accreditor is notified by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) of problems pointing to the potential closure of a college or university, a state removes an institution’s license to operate or the accrediting organizations places an institution on probation, show-cause or equivalent status. Actions such as withdrawal or accreditation or notification that the institution will cease operation would also trigger the need for approval of a teach-out plan.
- Monitor institutions whose ability to meet accreditation standards has declined, particularly related to financial responsibility requirements, as identified by USDE, an auditor or the accrediting organization, which may indicate that a closure is imminent.
- Respond to complaints, monitor and assess an institution’s records of student complaints within 30 days and submit such complaints to USDE and state agencies when appropriate.
The proposed legislation reinforces and, in some cases, makes more explicit how accreditors carry out current practices in these areas. It is intended to be part of a future bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.
"It is the accreditor’s job to assure institutions have the proper procedures in place to act in the best interest of the student and maintain the integrity of the accreditation process," the Representatives said in announcing the legislation. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.
CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS RELEASES HIGHER EDUCATION PRIORITIES
On October 1, 2019, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – a caucus of Representatives dedicated to advancing issues affecting Hispanics in the United States – released their Higher Education Priorities for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Among its other priorities such as accessibility, affordability and teacher support, the priorities include a call for more USDE oversight of accrediting organizations. No comprehensive HEA reauthorization legislation has been introduced yet in the House of Representatives.