Christian colleges are hoping that a bill making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives may resolve their concerns over education regulations that go into effect July 1.

Under the new regulations, created by the Department of Education (DOE) in response to reports of financial-aid fraud at several for-profit institutions, states are required to have a "substantive" procedure to license private schools. For religious universities, this has raised concern that political agendas could be imposed on their missions. (See "New Rules Worry Christian Colleges," November 1, 2010.)

"My concern is that there appears to be no limit to what factors a state can consider when granting or withholding authorization, and no mechanisms for appeal or due process," said Blair Dowden, president of Huntington University, at a March hearing before a House committee.

The regulations include an exemption for religious institutions, provided the institution "is owned, controlled, operated, and maintained by a religious organization lawfully operating as a nonprofit religious corporation and awards only religious degrees or religious certificates including, but not limited to, a certificate of Talmudic studies, an associate of biblical studies, a bachelor of religious studies, a master of divinity, or a doctor of divinity."

That definition is so narrow, Dowden testified, that "not one member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) would qualify for an exemption."

Shapri LoMaglio, government relations director of the CCCU, said the council is strongly united with the rest of the higher-education community in wanting to see the new regulations eventually overturned.

"These [regulations] are a complete overreach into the institutional ...

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