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California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

US District Court Decision: APSCU V Secretary of Education Duncan

06/05/2012

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Civil Action No. 11-0138 (RMC)

CAREER COLLEGE ASSOCIATION d/b/a ASSOCIATION OF PRIVATE SECTOR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, Plaintiff,
v.
ARNE DUNCAN, Secretary,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, et al.,Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION
Enormous amounts of federal funding for students at colleges, universities and other
postsecondary schools allow Uncle Sam to wield a heavy hand in regulating access to such funds.

The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has recently adopted a more intrusive approach
promulgating regulations under the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Secretary wants to protect student applicants who might be film-flammed into signing up for worthless courses—and using federal monies for tuition which the students cannot then repay. The new regulations became effective on July 1, 2011. Plaintiff Career College Association d/b/a Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities sues Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education, challenging the new regulations under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 553, 701–706, and the United States Constitution. While the current extent of regulation may not have been entirely foreseen by Congress, a point the Court does not reach, the terms of the Higher Education Act do not compel a more limited approach and the Secretary has explained his reasoning adequately.

However, as to the one aspect of the new regulations that would require distance educators to obtain authorization from every State in which they have students, the Secretary gave no prior notice and its adoption in the final regulations violated the APA. Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment will be denied in part and granted in part, and Defendants’ motion for summary judgment will be denied in part and granted in part.

Download the full decision in PDF format: APSCU V Duncan