Press Release/Statement | October 31, 2019

Statement on Rollback of State Authorization, Accreditation Protections

Author: Statement of Debbie Cochrane

“The new rules released today continue the Trump Administration’s rollbacks of consumer protections against predatory and low-quality colleges, putting students – especially over a million students enrolled online in colleges in other states – at greater risk of unaffordable debts.

“Just six months ago, a slate of negotiators – including the Department of Education, colleges, and state officials – agreed that the Department must reinforce states’ ability to enact and enforce laws protecting residents enrolled online across state lines. Yet the Department erased the key language. The Department also deleted assurances that students can file complaints with their own states, as well as the state in which their school is located, making it harder for states to know if their residents are being mistreated by out-of-state colleges.

“The rules released today also undermine accreditation as a reliable guide to college quality. The rule allows colleges to add campuses without approval, allows colleges to continue to operate out of compliance for longer periods of time, and lowers standards for accreditor themselves to be approved. And if accreditors don’t take action against failing colleges, there is little the Department could do to hold them accountable.

“Make no mistake: The Department’s rule undermines states and accreditors’ oversight of higher education by design. Today’s rule follows the repeal of the gainful employment rule, the evisceration of the borrower defense rule, and the gutting of the Department’s own oversight efforts. In the end, this horror show is a nightmare for students who will be put at greater risk of predatory colleges leaving them deep in debt.”


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