Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is Expected in Fall 2005

Publication Number 25 September 6, 2005

Dear Colleagues:

Our hearts and hopes go out to the victims of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Many campuses, students, faculty, administrators and their families and friends have suffered severe loss.

CHEA salutes the many college and university leaders who have opened campuses not only to their communities, but also to students throughout the country, playing a vital role in bringing order out of chaos and despair and working hard to assure that all students are protected and can continue their education.

Judith Eaton
Council for Higher Education Accreditation


As we move into fall 2005, we expect activity in both the House of Representatives and the Senate on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. In brief, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has passed its major reauthorization bill, H.R. 609, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has introduced its major reauthorization bill to be considered at a mark-up session currently scheduled for September 8, 2005.

Where We Stand in the House of Representatives

As reported in CHEA HEA Update #24 (July 22, 2005), the House Committee on Education and the Workforce reported favorably to the House H.R. 609 to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. HEA Update #24 described the Committee’s version of the bill as compared to the version of the bill reported to the Committee by the Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness.

The attached chart compares current law to accreditation-related and other provisions of H.R. 609 as reported by the Committee. It addresses the following topics: distance education, transfer of credit, information to the public, due process, missions of religious institutions, states as accreditors, governance, student achievement, and intellectual pluralism and student speech. Discussions continue about various amendments, including, for example, an amendment related to “inculcation of religious values.” We anticipate that H.R. 609 will receive additional consideration by the House committee during the week of September 12, 2005.

Where We are Going in the Senate

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced its reauthorization bill and scheduled a mark-up on September 8, 2005.

A preliminary examination of the accreditation provisions in Part H of the Senate bill indicates that there are no separate standards for distance education; there is language about “religious missions,” but not “inculcation of religious values”; the “CHEA Transfer Principle” and publication of a transfer policy are included; student achievement now includes a permissive section on “other student performance information”; due process provisions now include opportunity for written response from the institution and an opportunity for appeal to a panel that has members other than the members of the accreditation decision making body; there is language about “findings” related to accreditation and reaffirmation of accreditation to be made available to the public and the Secretary.

Other sections of the bill impose quite significant additional reporting and other obligations on institutions. For example, there are provisions related to transfer of credit that require “objective criteria” for transfer, evidence of students' “transfer proficiency” and reporting on percentages of students who have successfully transferred.


There is a good deal of uncertainty about the calendars of both the House and Senate with regard to considering these bills.

CHEA will keep you advised of developments related to accreditation and reauthorization. And, we will provide an analysis of the Senate bill following the Senate mark-up.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.