- Diane Auer Jones, principal deputy under secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, outlined how forthcoming regulations on accreditation would address college closings during an event Tuesday hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
- New regulations will include “financial triggers” that require colleges to file a teach-out plan with an accreditor, even if it doesn’t intend to close, Jones said. Teach-out plans will also require more detail, including a list of institutions that could potentially take students.
- The proposals will provide an “off-ramp” for some colleges, Jones said. If a college’s academic quality is up to par but it loses accreditation because of other issues, it will be able to retain access to Title IV funds for an additional 120 days. “These provisions will allow everybody to be a little more aggressive and to shoot off the signal a little bit earlier,” she added.
A trio of high-profile for-profit college system closures in recent months has drawn attention to how thousands of students can be left in the lurch when an institution closes without notice.
Yet few colleges collapse without warning signs, raising questions about why accreditors and the Ed Department haven’t taken action sooner against several spiraling systems.
Jones said the Ed Department has learned several lessons from the recent spate of closures, including that it needs to work more closely with accreditors and state regulators. “There had been movement in the direction of finger-pointing,” she added. “The department drove some of that.”
Earlier this year, the Ed Department convened a committee to determine what the new rules should be, including accreditors’ role in closings. In early April, negotiators came to a consensus on the text of those regulations, which would require colleges to alert students to possible closures and to establish… (continue reading)