Several of Secretary DeVos' Rethink Higher Education Regulations Take Effect Today as Department Issues New Rule to Protect Religious Liberty, Reform TEACH Grant Program

Several of Secretary DeVos' Rethink Higher Education Regulations Take Effect Today as Department Issues New Rule to Protect Religious Liberty, Reform TEACH Grant Program

July 1, 2020

WASHINGTON — Several new regulations based on U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' Rethink Higher Education agenda take effect today, including rules forged by historic consensus negotiated rulemaking on accreditation and state authorization reform. This comes as the U.S Department of Education publishes today a new regulation, also agreed to by a diverse panel of negotiators, to guarantee the Constitutional rights of religious organizations that participate in Federal Student Aid programs and improve the Teacher Education Assistance for College Higher Education (TEACH) grants program.

"We've made tremendous progress during the last three years, challenging everyone in the higher education community to rethink how we approach education with an eye toward putting students at the center of everything that we do," said Secretary DeVos. "We tackled a huge regulatory overhaul, and thanks to achieving historic consensus among higher education leaders, have published several new rules that will improve access to higher education for students, lower the cost, reduce regulatory burden for schools, and protect taxpayers who subsidize higher education. The coronavirus disruption to education has made even more clear the need for higher education to be more nimble, agile, and relevant for students, and I believe the regulations going into effect today help to make that possible. I'm proud of the work this team has done and hope that it will have a long-lasting, positive impact that lays the groundwork for additional student-centered reforms."

The Department's Accreditation and State Authorization regulations will expand educational options for students, protect schools with religious missions, lower accreditation costs borne by institutions of higher education, clarify an institution's responsibility for determining where a student resides and what distance learning rules impact that student, and ensure occupationally-focused education meets current workforce needs. The regulations also replace the idea of a one-size-fits-all standard with accountability requirements that align with an institution's program offerings and mission. These new regulations also recognize that students and accrediting organizations are not limited to a specific geographic region, so they end the outdated concept of regional accreditation and clarify that the Department holds all accreditors to the same standards. As a result, students should not face barriers to career entry and mobility or to continuing education, based solely on which accreditor oversees the school they attended.

Additional regulations taking effect today include the Department's overhaul of the Obama Administration's disastrous Gainful Employment and Borrower Defense regulations. In their place, the Department promulgated new regulations that protect individual borrowers from fraud, ensure accountability across institutions of higher education, require due process, and protect taxpayers. In addition, to ensure that all students and families have access to information about college costs, related debt, and post-graduation earnings, the Department expanded the College Scorecard to provide program-level data that can help all students make informed decisions about the likely costs and financial benefits of the programs they are considering.

The Faith-Based Institutions and TEACH Grants Final Rule published today guarantees the Constitutional rights of religious students who participate in Federal Student Aid programs and institutions that participate in the Department's various funding opportunities. These new regulations ensure that student loan borrowers no longer have to forfeit their access to public benefits, like loan forgiveness, simply because they choose to work at faith-based, non-profit institutions. The rule also allows hardworking teachers to focus on teaching their students rather than burdensome paperwork requirements with random deadlines. This will ensure that the TEACH Program grants won't be erroneously converted to loans.

These regulations also recognize the importance of all elementary school teachers, not just those who teach English as a second language and special education programs, in providing the foundation that students need to enjoy academic success throughout their lifetimes. As a result, elementary school teachers will be able to fulfill their TEACH grant obligations if they teach at a school that meets program requirements. These regulations codify the changes the Department already put into place when the Secretary learned that hardworking teachers were seeing their grants convert to loans, simply because they missed a paperwork deadline.

To view the Faith-Based Institutions and TEACH Grants Final Rule, click here.