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Murray Slams DeVos Rule Weakening Higher Education Oversight and Lowering Standards for College Accreditation

Senator Murray: College Accreditation and State Authorization Rule “Undermines Quality Assurance and Oversight of Higher Education,” calls for issue to be resolved in comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

Washington D.C. — Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), issued the following statement on Secretary DeVos’ rule to weaken oversight of the college accreditation system and lower the standards of our nation’s higher education institutions. Secretary DeVos’ rule for college accreditation and state authorization, which was finalized today, will weaken the ability of accrediting agencies, States, and the Department to provide meaningful oversight of colleges and universities, as well as accreditors that serve as gatekeepers to federal funding. Senator Murray today called for Secretary DeVos to withdraw this rule, which will cost taxpayers $3.8 billion and undoubtedly cost students much more in lost time and student loan debt, and instead allow Congress to address this issue through a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.


“Every student attending college or university deserves a quality education. Secretary DeVos’ latest rule undermines quality assurance and oversight of higher education and gives predatory for-profit colleges a free pass to take advantage of students and taxpayers. I urge the Secretary to withdraw this rule and allow Congress to address this issue through a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act,” said Senator Murray.  


The rule finalized today will 1) loosen long-standing requirements for the federal recognition of accreditors; 2) create barriers to removing the recognition of accreditors that do not meet federal requirements; 3) weaken standards by which accreditors evaluate institutions; 4) extend access to taxpayer funds for failing institutions; 5) enable bad actors to profit off of failing institutions on students’ and taxpayers’ dime; and 6) eliminate States’ ability to enforce their own higher education laws for students enrolled in distance education, which is a reversal from the proposed rule.


“For the past three years, Betsy Devos has repeatedly helped bad actors skirt protections for students. Now, she’s attempting to change the rules entirely by undermining accountability and transparency in our nation’s higher education system and opening the door for fraud and abuse. When a student receives a degree—they expect it to mean something,” Senator Murray added. “Bottom line, this rule will hurt students—and every family should be appalled at Secretary DeVos’ attempt to make it easier for institutions to use taxpayer dollars to take advantage of students,” Senator Murray added.   


Senator Murray, joined by a group of 27 Senators, first called for Secretary DeVos to abandon these harmful regulations in a comment letter sent in July. In the letter, the Senators laid out the damage this rule would cause to students and families. A copy of that letter is available here.