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The Department of Education Announces More Negotiated Rulemaking

Posted in Credit Hour, Department of Education, Financial Aid (Loans & Grants), Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, State Authorization

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

It will be a very busy year for the U.S. Department of Education (Department).  Already engaged in a controversial negotiated rulemaking on “gainful employment,” and having announced a rulemaking on the implementation of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, the Department published a notice in the Federal Register of its Intention To Establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to discuss topics for “Program Integrity and Improvement.”  The committee meetings will be held at the Department’s offices at 1990 K Street NW., Eighth Floor Conference Center, Washington, DC 20006.  The committee will meet from 9am -5 pm on the following days:

  • Session 1: February 19-21, 2014
  • Session 2: March 26-28, 2014
  • Session 3: April 23-25, 2014

The “Program Integrity and Improvement” rulemaking will likely focus on six topics:

  • Cash management of funds provided under the title IV Federal Student Aid programs, including the use of debit cards and the handling of title IV credit balances.
  • State authorization for programs offered through distance education or correspondence education.
  • State authorization for foreign locations of institutions located in a State.
  • Clock to credit hour conversion.
  • The definition of “adverse credit” for borrowers in the Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program.
  • The application of the repeat coursework provisions to graduate and undergraduate programs.

The Department is seeking nominations for this committee.  All nominations should be received by December 20, 2013.  The nominees  should fill one of the following constituencies that “are significantly affected by the topics proposed for negotiations”:

  • Students.
  • Legal assistance organizations that represent students.
  • Consumer advocacy organizations.
  • State higher education executive officers.
  • State attorneys general and other appropriate State officials.
  • Business and industry.
  • Institutions of higher education eligible to receive Federal assistance under title III, Parts A, B, and F, and title V of the HEA, which include Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, American Indian Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, Predominantly Black Institutions, and other institutions with a substantial enrollment of needy students as defined in title III of the HEA.
  • Two-year public institutions of higher education.
  • Four-year public institutions of higher education.
  • Private, non-profit institutions of higher education.
  • Private, for-profit institutions of higher education.
  • Regional accrediting agencies.
  • National accrediting agencies.
  • Specialized accrediting agencies.
  • Financial aid administrators at postsecondary institutions.
  • Business officers and bursars at postsecondary institutions.
  • Admissions officers at postsecondary institutions.
  • Institutional third-party servicers who perform functions related to the title IV Federal Student Aid programs (including collection agencies).
  • State approval agencies.
  • Lenders, community banks, and credit unions.

 

My Presentation at the Annual Conference of the National Association of College and University Attorneys

Posted in Credit Hour, Department of Education, Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, Incenitve Compensation

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be a presenter at the 2012 conference of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.  My panel, “Program integrity Rules: Misrepresentation, Incentive Compensation, Credit-Hours, State Authorization, Oh My!  What Have we Learned After One Year?” discussed a number of key regulatory changes that occurred in the last year.  Please enjoy my presentation, which addresses the incentive compensation and credit hour regulations.  And thanks to Gregory Ferenbach of Dow Lohnes, the panel moderator, and my fellow panelists, Andrea Stagg, Associate Counsel of the State University of New York  and Greg Davis, the General Counsel of DeVry University for such stimulating conversation.

House Passes Repeal of Credit Hour and State Authorization Regulations

Posted in Credit Hour, Department of Education, Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill, State Authorization

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

As reported by The Hill,  earlier this afternoon, Congress passed the “Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act” (H.R. 2117) by a 303-114 vote.  The legislation repealed the recently enacted federal definition of a credit hour and end the requirement that colleges obtain authorization to operate from every state where they enroll students in online classes.  Although there were initial questions over the level of Democratic member support fort he bill, in the end 69 Democrats joined a solid Republican Majority to pass the legislation.

 

House to Consider Repeal of State Authorization, Credit Hour Regulations

Posted in Accreditor News, Credit Hour, Department of Education, Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), State Authorization

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

As reported by Inside Higher Ed, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider the “Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act” (H.R. 2117), which would repeal the federal definition of a credit hour and end the requirement that colleges obtain authorization to operate from every state where they enroll students in online classes.  The legislation, which was authored by Higher Education Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and has 69 co-sponsors, currently has bipartisan support in the House, although the extent of such support is unclear.  While the bill seems likely to pass the House vote, it is unclear of its fate in the Senate.   While the Obama administration released a statement yesterday opposing the legislation, it did not threaten a veto if passed:
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2117, which would nullify certain Department of Education regulations that help ensure the integrity of the programs of student financial assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. These regulations are necessary to prevent the inflation of the academic credits attributed to postsecondary education courses that could result in the over-awarding of Federal student aid, and for the efficient administration of the student financial aid programs. Congress should not prevent the Secretary of Education from responsibly administering these programs and ensuring that consumers and taxpayers are protected from fraud, waste, and abuse.

In a press release, House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said, “We can’t tackle rising college costs without recognizing how Washington has contributed to the problem. Over the years, the nation’s higher education system has become increasingly complex with layers of new rules and programs. H.R. 2117 will repeal two troublesome regulations that pile additional costs and restrictions on colleges and students, and I am pleased to lend my support.”

“It’s time to stop complaining about the college tuition problem, and take concrete action by repealing two federal regulations that are costly and unnecessary,” Rep. Foxx said in the same release. “The Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act will repeal the credit hour and state authorization regulations – two mandates that insert the federal government into decisions that have historically been the sole responsibility of institutions and states.”

In a statement on the bill, Democrats against the measure have argued that the bill undercuts oversight of higher education: “the Department of Education’s Inspector General has identified loopholes that allow schools to ‘game the system,’ such as manipulating credit hours in order to receive more federal aid funds. Regrettably, H.R. 2117 would overturn the Department’s efforts to prevent such gaming and other efforts to ensure that students and taxpayers receive a quality education for their investment.”

The bill has garnered support from across higher education. As reported by Inside Higher Ed, “the American Council on Education sent letters signed by 98 higher education associations and accreditors to members of Congress on Monday, urging them to support the bill.”

Last June, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act with bipartisan support in a vote of 27 to 11.

Dennis Cariello’s Speaking Engagements – November 18 in Ellenville, NY

Posted in ATB, Credit Hour, Department of Education, Financial Aid (Loans & Grants), Gainful Employment, Higher Education News, Misrepresentation

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

Please join me at the annual meeting of the Coalition for New York State Career Schools.  The meeting is from November 16-18 at the Honor’s Haven Resort and Spa, and I will be part of a panel at 10:00 on November 18 that looks at various compliance issues for postsecondary institutions that accept Title IV funds.

 

Dennis Cariello’s Speaking Engagements – November 17 in Boston

Posted in ATB, Credit Hour, Department of Education, Financial Aid (Loans & Grants), Gainful Employment, Higher Education Policy, Incenitve Compensation, Misrepresentation

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

Although it won’t be as warm as being in Puerto Rico, Boston has a great conference this week as well.  I will be speaking at the Wunderlich Securities – Signal Hill Education Conference on Thursday at The Taj Hotel, Boston.  While the full schedule looks great, I encourage you to get  up at 7:20 in the morning and hear me, along with my esteemed co-panelists – Nancy Broff of Dickstein Shapiro, Doug Lederman of Inside Higher Ed and Teddy Downey of TJ Strategies — discuss the regulatory and legislative initiatives affecting the sector with our moderator, Trace Urdan of Wunderlich Securities.  Sure it will be a mix of the here and now (gainful employment, various enforcement issues, increasing prominence of the office of the inspector general, etc.) and the future (90/10 and the GI Bill, the future of providing financial aid, accreditation agencies of the future, etc).   I imagine we will also wade into topics like job placement reporting and the work of the state attorneys general.

Of course, I encourage you to stay for the rest of the day, for which you will be rewarded with a great mix of public and private company presentations and talks about substantive policy issues and market trends.

 

Department of Education Defines “Credit Hour”

Posted in Accreditor News, Credit Hour, Department of Education, Higher Education News

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello
Patricia V. Edelson

In Dear Colleague Letter GEN-11-06, the US Department of Education has provided guidance on the definition of a credit hour in the program integrity regulations.

Also included in the Letter, released March 18, 2011, was reference to clock hour and clock-to-credit hour conversion rules.  The rules, which were originally proposed in a notice of proposed rule-making  (75 FR 34806-34890) published June 18, 2010, and published in final form on October 29, 2010 (75 FR 66832-66975), are scheduled to take effect July 1, 2011. For more information on the final rules, please read our earlier Alert.

These rules apply to schools that receive funds authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, such as Pell Grants and federal student loans.

The Department issued the Letter to provide guidance to institutions and accrediting agencies regarding a credit hour as defined in the final regulations.  The primary purpose of the Letter was to highlight the flexibilities inherent in the credit hour definition and to correct any misunderstandings in the higher education community.  The guidance related to the credit hour definition also included the role of accrediting agencies in approving institutions’ credit hour definitions.

The Department also provided some guidance on clock hour and clock-to-credit hour regulations, but questions still remain about these regulations.
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Department of Education issues Final Rules on Program Integrity

Posted in ATB, Credit Hour, Department of Education, Gainful Employment, Higher Education News, Incenitve Compensation, Misrepresentation, State Authorization

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello
David P. Lewis
Patricia V. Edelson  
Allison L. Kierman

The US Department of Education has published final rules on higher education program integrity in the Federal Register (Vol. 75, No. 209 F.R. 66831-66975).  In a separate Federal Register Notice, the Department also released rules concerning future program approval requirements (Vol. 75, No. 209 F.R. 66665-66677).

The Rules, issued October 29, 2010, include revisions to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published by the Department on June 18, 2010. The Rules are applicable to proprietary and nonprofit institutions and are largely effective July 1, 2011.

According to the Department, the Rules are intended to “strengthen federal student aid programs at for-profit, nonprofit and public institutions by protecting students from aggressive or misleading recruiting practices, providing consumers with better information about the effectiveness of career college and training programs, and ensuring that only eligible students or programs receive aid.”

The Rules, published in an 894-page release, address a number of issues. Below is a summary of the most notable of those issues that institutions will need to address promptly in anticipation of the July 1, 2011 effective date of the Rules.
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