The Higher Education Act (HEA) requires the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to use the negotiated rulemaking process in order to make any changes to programs authorized under Title IV of the HEA, the section that administers more than $130 billion annually through federal student financial aid programs.
Starting January 15, 2019 ED will begin the negotiated rulemaking process by establishing the Accreditation and Innovation Committee with the intent to address the Secretary’s recognition of accrediting agencies, clarify the core oversight responsibilities amongst each entity in the regulatory triad, and discuss the roles and responsibilities of institutions and accrediting agencies in the teach-out process. ED will also establish three subcommittees on faith-based entities, TEACH Grants, and distance learning and educational innovation.
Negotiated rulemaking is a consensus-based process. Ultimately the negotiators of the Accreditation and Innovation Committee will conclude with a vote of consensus on the final recommendations. If the committee reaches consensus, then ED must develop the notice of proposed rulemaking using the committees recommendations. If consensus is not reached, then ED can develop regulations as they see fit. It is an exciting time to see what proposed changes to accreditation and innovation the negotiators will put forth, as these conversations have the ability to influence the next HEA reauthorization.
ED will undergo numerous negotiated rulemaking sessions in the future on a variety of topics. For those tuning into negotiated rulemaking, check out our 101: Negotiated Rulemaking to learn more about the process.