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Committee Approves the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act

H.R. 2117 Limits Federal Overreach into Higher Education

The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce today approved legislation to repeal two federal regulations burdening institutions of higher education. The Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act (H.R. 2117), sponsored by Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 27 to 11.

"In order to best prepare today's students to join tomorrow's workforce, we must ensure we are not overwhelming schools with unnecessary regulations," Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said. "Too much federal overreach into postsecondary education will undoubtedly lead to higher costs and reduced access to education opportunities for millions of students. The legislation offered by Representative Foxx takes an important step to defend student choice and opportunities in higher education."

"At the end of the day, the unnecessary state authorization and credit hour regulations will reduce local control and create uncertainty in postsecondary education," stated Rep. Foxx. "Instead of over-regulating the nation's higher education system, we should focus our efforts on simplifying federal involvement and streamlining regulatory burdens. Decisions about how best to teach postsecondary students should be left to institutions, not Washington bureaucrats." 

H.R. 2117 will help streamline the federal role in postsecondary education by permanently repealing the unnecessary credit hour and state authorization regulations, thereby protecting states, institutions, and students from excessive federal regulatory burdens.

The American Council on Education (ACE) recently sent a letter on behalf of more than 60 higher education associations and accrediting organizations in support of H.R. 2117. Excerpts from the letter to Representative Foxx are below:


We support efforts aimed at curbing abuse and bringing greater integrity to the federal student aid programs. However, given the almost total lack of evidence of a problem in the context of credit hour or state authorization, we see no basis for two regulations that so fundamentally alter the relationships between the federal government, states, accreditors and institutions. Ultimately, we believe these regulations invite inappropriate federal interference in campus-based decisions and will limit student access to high-quality education opportunities.

. . . 

For over a year, we have engaged in conversations with ED in hopes that our concerns with these regulations could be addressed. Although ED has issued guidance to mitigate some of the most serious problems in distance education context, our fundamental objections to both the state authorization and credit hour regulations remain. Therefore, we are pleased to offer our support for H.R. 2117.

To read the full letter from ACE, click here.

To view markup materials and read the legislation, click here.  


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