Sending Office: Trahan, Lori
Put Students and Taxpayers First
Cosponsor the Accreditation Reform Act of 2020
Led by Congresswomen Lori Trahan, Madeleine Dean, and Jahana Hayes
Endorsed by the Center for American Progress, New America Higher Education Program,
The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), Third Way, and Higher Learning Advocates
For over 70 years, the federal government has relied on accrediting agencies to serve as quality assurance barometers and gatekeepers to over $120 billion in federal student aid. However, this system has been exploited by bad actors who fleece students with
useless degrees and a lifetime of crushing debt.
Lack of accountability and weak oversight from both accreditors and the federal government have allowed fraudulent and low-performing schools to cheat taxpayers from their return on investment. This became painfully apparent with the recent collapse of for-profit
institutions like the Corinthian Colleges and ITT Techs, which demonstrated the failure of our accreditation system to ensure quality in higher education.
It is long overdue for Congress to strengthen guardrails across this quality assurance system and hold our watchdogs accountable for providing current and prospective students with high-quality, affordable education.
The Accreditation Reform Act protects students and taxpayers by modernizing evaluation and increasing transparency in the accreditation system.
THE ACCREDITATION REFORM ACT WOULD:
- Modernize federal review and evaluation of accrediting agencies by requiring the Department of Education to consider information at its disposal, such as:
- Federal Student Aid financial and audit reports;
- Program reviews;
- Risk assessments;
- Complaints from students;
- Records of public comment, and more.
- Strengthen checks-and-balances by empowering the independent and bipartisan advisory board called the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) to actively influence and participate in recognition reviews
- Safeguard transparency through the creation of a federally maintained, public database on the website of the Department of Education that includes:
- All final documents produced on accrediting agencies and associations’ reviews of a school, including on-site inspection and unannounced site visit reports;
- Substantive change reviews and decisions;
- All final documents produced by the Secretary of Education in determining whether to recognize an accreditor with the rationale for their decision, and more.
- Increase accountability by encouraging the Department of Education to lawfully utilize its “limited recognition” ability when measuring accrediting agencies reviewing institutions
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0