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House Committee Approves Bill to Limit Higher Ed. Regulations

The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce today approved a bill aimed at repealing mandates affecting higher education, including the gainful-employment regulations designed to curb abusive practices by career education programs.

The Supporting Academic Freedom Through Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2637) was introduced in the House on July 10 by lawmakers who claim "program integrity" rules stifle innovation and lead to higher college costs.

The act would repeal gainful-employment regulations that measure students' ability to pay back loans and make money after graduation from career-training programs at public, for-profit, and non-profit schools. Backers of the new rules call the regulations, scheduled to be phased in over the next few years, burdens on community and proprietary colleges.

The proposal also would repeal the state authorization regulation, which requires states to follow federal requirements when deciding to grant an institution permission to operate within the state and the credit-hour regulation establishing a federal definition of credit hour.

It was introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.; John Kline, R-Minn., the committee chairman; and Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.

The legislation would take three "particularly punitive federal mandates off the table and protect higher education institutions from unnecessary financial and regulatory burdens," said Kline in a statement today.

Foxx called the current regulations "ill-conceived" and urged the full House to act to repeal them so issues of affordability, accountability, and transparency can be carefully addressed during the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

H.R. 2637 has support from the American Council on Education, the Washington-based organization representing university and college leaders. "These regulations are highly problematic and have the potential to create far-reaching negative consequences for higher education," said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad in a July 17 letter to Foxx.

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