The U.S. Department of Education moved forward this week with plans to review wide-ranging higher education regulations, including those governing accrediting agencies, distance education, and how colleges receive and manage Title IV federal student aid funding.
Over the past few years, the Biden administration has started overhauling U.S. higher education policy. The Education Department has tightened the rules for-profit colleges must follow, increased protections for student loan borrowers and added more oversight to financially shaky institutions.
The Education Department filed a notice Tuesday saying it is planning its latest regulatory review through a process called negotiated rulemaking. Neg reg, as it is known, brings together negotiators to try to reach consensus on regulatory changes.
If they agree unanimously, the Education Department must adopt their proposed regulatory language. If they don’t find consensus, however, the agency can craft its own rules.
The process can be lengthy, as the Education Department must then seek public comment on its draft regulations and respond to all of them in some fashion.
The Education Department is seeking over a dozen negotiators to represent different groups who would be affected by regulatory changes, including civil rights organizations, state attorneys general, students, accrediting agencies, financial aid administrators and different types of institutions.
The agency will also establish a subcommittee to discuss eligibility for participating in federal TRIO programs, which serve disadvantaged college students, such as first-generation and low-income students.
The groups will convene several times from January to March to discuss new regulations.
Meanwhile, the Education Department is conducting negotiated rulemaking in an attempt to cancel mass amounts of student loan debt. Negotiators will meet a final time in December to discuss regulatory avenues to clear student balances.