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Fact Sheet: H.R. 2637, the Supporting Academic Freedom Through Regulatory Relief Act


Over the last decade, college costs have skyrocketed. Annual in-state tuition and fees at public four-year universities cost an average of $4,793 in 2001. Today, that price tag is $8,665 – an 81 percent increase. Similar trends can be seen at private institutions and two-year degree programs.

Despite the Obama administration’s failed attempts to rein in college costs through new government programs, mandates, and possible price controls, Republicans know helping students realize the dream of higher education cannot be accomplished solely at the federal level. Instead, we support increased transparency, better data, and schools’ ability to assist students and families in making fiscally responsible higher education choices.

Republicans also recognize the need to reduce federal regulations that stifle innovation and may lead to higher costs for colleges and students. Four troublesome regulations released as part of the Department of Education’s so-called ‘program integrity’ rules – the gainful employment, state authorization, credit hour, and incentive compensation regulations – not only put Washington in the middle of issues that have historically been the responsibility of institutions or states, but could also have significant implications on college costs and academic freedom.


To reduce federal intrusion, protect student choice, and limit the costly regulatory burden on colleges and universities, Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act. The legislation would eliminate the most burdensome ‘program integrity’ regulations and prevent future federal overreach in postsecondary academic affairs.


  • Repeals the gainful employment regulation, which would levy reporting burdens on community and proprietary colleges and force administrators to seek federal approval before creating programs.
  • Repeals the state authorization regulation, which forces states to follow federal requirements when deciding whether to grant an institution – including those offering online education programs – permission to operate within the state.
  • Repeals the credit hour regulation, which establishes a federal definition of a credit hour and increases the government’s control over institutions’ academic affairs.
  • Amends the incentive compensation regulation to ensure third-party service providers are allowed to enter into tuition sharing agreements with nonprofit colleges and universities to aid in the development of distance education platforms.
  • Prohibits the Department of Education from issuing related regulations until after Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act.
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