WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, the U.S. Department of Education released the final version of federal regulations for accreditation and state authorization for online institutions. Set to take effect in July 2020, the new rules would lead to a spiraling decline in the quality of the nation’s higher education system, costly and fruitless expenditures of student time and money, and a cost of up to $3.8 billion to U.S. taxpayers. The Department’s final rule does not reflect the consensus reached during the negotiated rulemaking earlier this year.
"By weakening the accreditation system, the Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos has once again demonstrated that its main goal is to enrich for-profit college executives and loan servicers,” said Center for Responsible Lending Senior Policy Counsel Ashley Harrington. “Already, for-profit colleges heavily market to low-income communities and communities of color, trapping them in expensive loans to pay for a low-quality product that does not contribute to their future prospects. If we care about the success of people looking to better themselves in this changing economy, we need to see stronger standards and better enforcement of existing laws, not a weakening of them.”
“States will be blocked from protecting residents from low-quality online learning providers they have not authorized,” said Center for Responsible Lending Director of State Policy Lisa Stifler. “Commonsense protections that were removed from the final rule are inconsistent with agreements made between negotiators. This is incredibly problematic and will lead to a flourishing of fraudulent distance-learning schemes that offer substandard services and do nothing but burden our students with debt. The Department of Education is tasked with maintaining the legacy of high-quality education that has undergirded this country’s economy for generations. This new rule indisputably undermines that mandate.”
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