USDE Releases Draft Consensus Language From Negotiated Rulemaking

Publication Number 77 April 18, 2019

USDE The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) released draft consensus language from its negotiated rulemaking on accreditation, innovation and other topics on April 17, 2019. The draft consensus language approved by the committee is available on the negotiated rulemaking Website page.

Negotiated rulemaking is the process used by USDE for stakeholder representatives to meet with USDE to negotiate the terms of a proposed administrative rule or regulatory change. The negotiated rulemaking full committee met four times between mid-January and early April, 2019. Three subcommittees (which met several times and addressed distance education, faith-based institutions and TEACH Grants) made recommendations to the full committee. Following its own consideration and discussion, the full committee reached consensus on April 3, 2019. (For more information, see Federal Update #76)

There are a number of broad areas where accreditation will be directly affected by the consensus language. The revised regulatory proposals:

  • Increase expectations by USDE concerning student achievement.
  • Require more transparency regarding where regional accreditors operate,
  • Open the door to non-institutional offerings and student aid.
  • Provide more flexibility for innovation for institutions and accreditors
  • Protect students through enhanced disclosure and teach-out requirements
  • Simplify and balance the recognition process for both USDE and accrediting organizations.

Several specific changes will also have an impact on accreditation, such as requiring arbitration of accreditation decisions prior to going to court; changing provisions for respect of religious mission; adding substantial compliance as a USDE finding; altering direct assessment regulations; simplifying substantive change provisions; and making it easier for new accreditor to gain recognition.

USDE will now publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register and provide for a public comment period. USDE will review all comments; changes may be made to the proposed rule based on those comments. For the rule to take effect on July 1, 2020, the final rule must be published in the Federal Register by November 1, 2019.