Today the Department of Education (DOE) will finalize a new set of regulations that have many private colleges and universities concerned and religious institutions downright alarmed. Formulated in response to allegations of financial-aid fraud at some for-profit institutions, these 80-odd pages of rules contain 14 different directives, one of which could provide a back-door threat to the ability of Christian colleges to control curriculum, admissions, and hiring standards. (Another rule, requiring for-profit universities to demonstrate a minimal rate of post-graduate employment, has been delayed after it drew protests.)
The directive, mandated for implementation by July 1, 2011, asks states to develop a procedure (if they don't already have one) to license private educational institutions. The procedure must be a "substantive" one, and if schools do not comply the states are required to take "adverse action" against the institutions. (Under current law, as long as a school is approved by a federally recognized accreditor and is allowed to operate in a particular state, that school will be eligible to receive Title IV financial aid for its students.)
The new rule threatens to introduce another layer of bureaucracy to higher education. And while some states will probably exercise restraint in implementing new rules for universities, the concern is that others may not.
As Hank Brown, former president of the University of Colorado, and Bill Armstrong, president of Colorado Christian University, wrote in a recent op-ed in The Denver Post, "Who can doubt that various interest groups will soon begin to clamor for ideas to be mandated by law as requirements for college classrooms?" Armstrong said in an interview that the new regulations ...1