WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 24, 2013 -
Today’s debate affords us a valuable opportunity to discuss challenges facing our higher education system. There’s no denying that the cost of college is skyrocketing. Combined in-state tuition and fees at public four-year universities have increased 81 percent over the last decade and similar trends can be seen at private institutions and two-year degree programs.
The president has recently floated several proposals, supposedly to ease this cost burden. However, his ideas will not solve the problem of rising tuition. In fact, they may serve to exacerbate the problem.
The Education and the Workforce Committee has held several hearings over the last three years to discuss the problems facing our nation’s higher education system. Our expert witnesses consistently raise concerns about the impact that onerous federal regulations have on innovation, affordability and student choice in higher education.
It is clear that the answer to the challenge of college affordability is not going to be found through Washington’s top-down micromanagement of American colleges and universities.
The Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute makes minor technical changes to the underlying legislation, which will reduce the regulatory burden Washington threatens to place on colleges by repealing several of the so-called “program integrity” regulations comprised of credit hour, state authorization, and gainful employment rules. These mandates unnecessarily insert the federal government into decisions that have historically been the sole responsibility of individual institutions and states. It amends the incentive compensation regulation to ensure third-party service providers are allowed to enter into tuition sharing agreements for the development of distance learning programs and finally, it prohibits the Department of Education from issuing related regulations until Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act.
So-called ‘program integrity’ regulations are stifling to pioneering institutions at a time when forward-thinking solutions are desperately needed. The Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act will remove the threat ‘gainful employment,’ ‘state authorization’ and ‘federal credit hour’ regulations pose to student choice, innovative schools and an American economy that stands to benefit from responsive higher learning institutions.
Republicans and Democrats should toss these bad ideas aside and work together to strengthen higher education for students and taxpayers while maintaining the flexibility and choice that set American colleges and universities apart.
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