ED’s Draft Regulatory Language for Upcoming Neg Reg Includes Changes to Accreditation Process


January 8, 2019

The Department of Education (ED) next week will begin the process of opening debate around topics in higher education related to accreditation, distance learning, TEACH Grants, and faith-based entities through negotiated rulemaking, or “neg reg,” sessions. ED will kick off the slew of sessions with accreditation regulations next week, and due to the vast number of regulations up for discussion, has designated subcommittees to address the remaining topics immediately following the main negotiations.

Required by the Higher Education Act (HEA) for all rules related to the Title IV programs, neg reg is the process in which ED and affected interest groups negotiate proposed rules with the goal of reaching consensus. ED publishes the proposed rule in the Federal Register as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and solicits public comments, which are evaluated for inclusion in the final rule.

The neg reg sessions for accreditation—which are open to the public—will take place January 14-16, February 19-22, and conclude March 25-28. Live streaming is available at edstream.ed.gov. In a departure from past negotiations, in which the first session has generally been a brainstorming and listening session, ED has already released its proposed draft regulatory language.

With regard to accreditation, ED is proposing changes to numerous provisions related to topics such as agency experience, accreditation standards, innovation waivers, and enforcement policies, among others.

In the draft language, ED proposed to change the criteria that an agency must meet before applying for federal recognition. It proposed to eliminate the requirement that an agency show that it had been conducting accrediting activities for two years before applying for recognition, instead proposing that an agency demonstrate it has policies in place that meet accreditation criteria prior to applying.

ED proposed that agencies that accredit distance learning and/or correspondence education programs define for themselves what qualifies (continue reading…)