Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the chief sponsor of the bill, defended it in a press release, claiming that “heavy-handed regulation threatens to crush the very innovative new programs we need to make education more affordable and efficient.” Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, was quoted as saying, “This legislation will help protect student choice, reduce job-destroying regulations, and encourage the establishment of more innovative programs to better serve both students and the local workforce.”
But as the Center for American Progress’ Julie Margetta Morgan writes, this is a hollow argument:
House Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) claims that repealing these regulations is a step toward tackling rising college costs. It’s simply not true. Those who support H.R. 2117 are trying to protect colleges from additional regulation at the expense of students and taxpayers. Repealing these program integrity standards would allow low-quality educational institutions to continue receiving federal financial aid, and students will end up wasting both their own money and the federal government’s when they pursue worthless credentials. [...]
As we wrote last year—the previous time H.R. 2117 was up for consideration in the House Education and Workforce Committee—the credit hour definition and the state authorization rule are not perfect. But it’s ludicrous to think that the status quo—wasteful spending on inflated credit hours and little regulation of online education providers—is better.
The costs of attending college have risen sharply in recent years, with graduates now owing an average of $25,000 in student loans once they leave. President Obama has pledged to tackle the rising costs of higher education, telling colleges that “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down. We should push colleges to do better. We should hold them accountable if they don’t.” The effort to control costs and protect students should likewise extend to institutions which offer little in the way of career benefits yet saddle students with debt.
The bill is not expected to become law, with Democrats likely to block its passage if it reaches the Senate.