Senators Marco Rubio and Michael Bennet this week reintroduced a bill that would create an alternative accreditation pathway. The proposed legislation would give previously unaccredited institutions access to federal financial aid under a five-year pilot program. Providers, including new ones, would be eligible for aid through contracts with the U.S. Department of Education, but only if they can demonstrate quality through positive student outcomes, the two senators said in a written statement.
Rubio has been both outspoken and in the weeds with his interest in accreditation. During his recent campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Rubio called the current higher education system a "cartel" he would bust with an alternative accreditation pathway for high-quality, low-cost competitors. The return of the legislation he had proposed with Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, suggests that the Florida Republican will continue to push on the accreditation issue.
"America needs a 21st-century higher education system that embraces all the new ways people can learn and acquire skills without having to go the traditional four-year college degree track," Rubio said in the statement. "To modernize our higher education system, we must end the status quo accreditation system, which stifles competition, fuels soaring tuition costs and limits opportunities for nontraditional students, such as working parents. The alternative accreditation system we've proposed is built on higher quality standards and outcomes than the current accreditation system, and would mark an important first step toward shaking up a higher education system that leaves too many people with tons of student loan debt and without degrees that lead to good-paying jobs."
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