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House to Vote This Week on Bill to Repeal State Authorization, Credit Hour Regulations

February 27, 2012


The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week on a bill (H.R 2117) to repeal two Department of Education regulations that went into effect July 1, 2011.

H.R. 2117, approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce last summer, would repeal the so-called state authorization regulation and the new federal definition of a credit hour. The vote is expected during a work session that begins tomorrow and is scheduled to go through Wednesday.

ACE and a coalition of higher education organizations sent a letter to House members today asking them to vote yes on the bill.

“Given the almost total lack of evidence of a problem in the context of credit hour or state authorization, these two portions of the package miss their mark,” the groups wrote. “We see no justification for two regulations that so fundamentally alter the relationships among the federal government, states, accreditors and institutions. We believe the outcome of this unprecedented regulatory overreach will be inappropriate federal interference in campus-based decisions in which the faculty play a central role. The end result will be a curtailment of student access to high-quality education opportunities.”

The state authorization regulation forces institutions to meet any state requirements necessary to offer distance education in the state where the student is located while receiving instruction.

The new procedure is extremely complicated and replaced a straightforward administrative requirement that worked very well. There is also concern that it will greatly increase the cost of providing distance education courses.

The new credit hour definition opens the door to federal interference in core academic decisions that must be left to individual institutions, the organizations believe.

As a secondary matter, the definition is ambiguous, and the lack of effective guidance on implementation could pose serious challenges as campuses begin to review curricula to ensure compliance.

Also see:

Talking Points in Support of H.R. 2117—Repeal of Federal Credit Hour and State Authorization Regulations

Senate Version of H.R. 2117 Would Rescind Education Department Regulations (July 5, 2011)

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