Washington Wrap Up – September 27, 2016

A quick look back at the news from last week. Compiled by Penn Hill Group.


House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) along with other committee leaders sent oversight letters to both the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Labor asking for details on regulatory staffing changes in the final months of administration.

House Committee Chairman Kline issued a statement opposing ED’s decision to terminate Federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).


The Senate Appropriations Committee released a short-term continuing appropriations measure to maintain government operations through Dec. 9, 2016, which also provides funding to combat the Zika virus and for disaster recovery needs in Louisiana and other States as well as contains the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill.

Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced S.3368, the Access Success and Persistence In Reshaping Education (ASPIRE) Act. This legislation would rank colleges awarding bachelor’s degrees by Pell enrollment and 6-year graduation rates. Colleges with rankings in the bottom 5 percent of all schools would face fines and could lose Title IV eligibility. Fines would be distributed to low-performing colleges to help them improve.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Accreditation Reform and Enhanced Accountability Act, which would require ED to set minimum cut-off standards that accreditors must use when assessing colleges. In addition, the legislation would ban certain individuals from being part of the accreditation process and would require accreditors to use individuals from outside of their association.

Senate Committee Ranking Member Murray released a statement supporting ED’s decision to withdraw recognition of ACICS.


The Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC) announced that its members would expand its review of institutions of higher education to include a greater focus on graduation rates as well as other measures. C-RAC members will pay special attention to four-year institutions that have graduation rates that are, at a minimum, at or below 25 percent, and two-year institutions that have rates that are, at a minimum, at or below 15 percent.

ED has decided to terminate the Secretary’s recognition of ACICS as a recognized accreditor for Title IV purposes. ACICS has announced their intent to appeal this decision.

ED announced the launch of its new package of supports to aid students affected by college closures, which will match students with financial aid and academic counselors who will provide guidance to the affected students on how to continue their studies.

Education News Headlines
[Click on the link to read the article online]

Panelists warn of international student bubble [Article 4 – Inside Higher Ed]

A New Cost at College: Digital Access Codes [Article 6 – The New York Times]

Bipartisan Senate bill takes a carrot-and-stick approach to boosting college access, graduation rates [Article 4 – The Washington Post]

Trump questions spending decisions of colleges with large endowments [Article 5 – Inside Higher Ed]

Decreasing median incomes linked to rising numbers of Pell Grant recipients [Article 7 – Inside Higher Ed]

Regional accreditors refocus on institutions with low grad rates [Article 8 – Inside Higher Ed]

New study could be another nail in the coffin for the validity of student evaluations of teaching [Article 12 – Inside Higher Ed]

MOOC-based master’s degree initiative expands globally [Article 9 – Inside Higher Ed]

2 Projects That Promote Alternative Credentials Reach Key Milestones [Article 10 – The Chronicle of Higher Education]

U.S. Department of Education and the Administration
Department of Education

  • Speech: Opportunity Across America: Expanding College Access, Affordability, and Completion
  • Press Release: Department of Education Announces New Resources, Continues Efforts to Aid Students Impacted by Recent School Closures

Department of Labor

  • Press Release: US Department of Labor Awards $80.3M in Grants To Provides At-Risk Youth In 35 States A Second Chance At Education, Career Training
  • Blog: New Intermediaries Will Help Scale U.S. Apprenticeships