The senior Department of Education official overseeing the development of the Obama administration’s college ratings system confirmed on Wednesday that the department was on track to publish a draft proposal by this fall.
Another department official earlier this week had cast doubt on that timeline during remarks at a financial aid administrators’ conference, suggesting that it might not get done by the end of this year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
But Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said Wednesday afternoon that the department was still on track to produce a draft ratings system later this year.
“We want to get something out -- a first draft -- for people to look at in the fall,” he told reporters. “I’m still operating on a rough draft for fall.”
The first bill aims to boost financial counseling for students who take out federal loans or grants. It would also direct the Education Department to develop an online tool that would help students “understand their rights and obligations” of having a federal student loan.
The second bill would create a new “College Dashboard” website to tell families consumer information about colleges, including financial aid information and graduation rates. The data would include nontraditional students as well as Pell Grant recipients (groups of students for whom the federal government doesn’t track completion rates). The legislation would also eliminate the department’s current College Navigator website.
The third bill, the only one that attracted Democratic co-sponsors, aims to simplify the process by which students apply for federal student aid. It would allow the Education Department to calculate families’ needs based on their taxes filed two years prior. It would also require more data-sharing between the Internal Revenue Service and the Education Department.
The prior-prior year concept is also endorsed in legislation introduced last week by Senator Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate education committee. Alexander’s bill, though, calls for a far more drastic overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Representative John Kline, the Republican who chairs the House education committee, has said he expects the full House to vote on some of his piecemeal Higher Education Act rewrites before the November elections.
A heated Congressional exchange raises the question: does the U.S. government need more power to hold colleges accountable for handling sexual assault cases, or has it already overstepped its authority?
Senator Tom Harkin, the Democrat who chairs the Senate education committee, on Wednesday released his plan to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.
Harkin unveiled the full text of his proposal, an outline of which he released Tuesday evening. He said that the proposal was a “discussion draft” and that he would accept public comments on the plan through August 29.
House Republicans, led by Representative John Kline, on Tuesday published an outline of their priorities for rewriting the Higher Education Act. Kline said that instead of releasing a comprehensive bill, he would be introducing smaller pieces of legislation in an attempt to build broader support. He said he would release the first of those bills this week.
The Obama administration is delaying its plan to develop a controversial rule that would require online programs to obtain approval from each and every state in which they enroll students, a top Education Department official said Wednesday.
Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said that the administration would not develop a new “state authorization” regulation for distance education programs before its November 1 deadline.
“We, for all intents and purposes, are pausing on state authorization,” Mitchell said during remarks at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation conference. “It’s complicated, and we want to get it right.”
Mitchell said he wanted make sure the regulation was addressing a “specific problem” as opposed to a general one. The goal, he said, should be to promote consumer protection while also allowing for innovation and recognizing that “we do live in the 21st century and boundaries don’t matter that much.”
Distance education providers and state regulators have criticized the department’s approach in recent months. The department’s last draft proposal would have effectively required states to take a far more aggressive approach to regulating the online programs beamed into their state than many currently do.
Separately, the Education Department earlier this week again delayed the implementation of its existing state authorization rule for colleges that have a physical presence in different states. Officials said they needed to give states additional time to bring their college approval processes into compliance with the federal standards.
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Education is again delaying the deadline for when colleges must comply with a requirement that they obtain authorization from regulators in each state in which they are physically located.
The rule was set to take effect next month, but the department announced Monday that it is pushing the deadline back to July 1, 2015. This is the second time the department has provided such an extension for a rule that many colleges have said is confusing. Some have also said the rule is being enforced unfairly.
The regulation is aimed at setting some minimum standards for how a state approves colleges operating within its borders. States, for example, must have a process for accepting student complaints about a college. The rule also sets out the conditions under which state regulators can use an institution’s accreditation or business licenses as a substitute for a more intensive approval process.
Those state authorization requirements that are now being delayed affect only those colleges that have physical locations, not distance education providers.
The department’s separate state authorization requirement for distance education programs was struck down by a federal appeals court in 2012. Department officials are currently rewriting those rules after a negotiated rule making panel failed to reach consensus on the issue earlier this year.
The net price paid by students rose by an average of 10.5 percent from 2008 to 2013 at 33 independent colleges examined by The Boston Globe, faster than inflation, the newspaper reported. The Globe's study found that net price -- the amount paid by students after financial aid was awarded -- rose by at least 15 percent at 11 of the 33 institutions. College officials offered a range of explanations for the increases to the Globe.