While President Barack Obama didn’t mention accreditation in his State of the Union address last week, an important supplemental domestic policy document released after the speech demonstrates that he’s seeking major changes in the accreditation system for higher education. That proposal has some concerned about how such changes might affect Catholic colleges and universities.
According to “The President’s Plan for a Strong Middle Class and a Strong America,” the president intends to hold “colleges accountable for cost, value, and quality,” including setting benchmarks for affordability and student outcomes as criteria for receiving federal student financial aid.
The President will call on Congress to consider value, affordability, and student outcomes in making determinations about which colleges and universities receive access to federal student aid, either by incorporating measures of value and affordability into the existing accreditation system; or by establishing a new, alternative system of accreditation that would provide pathways for higher education models and colleges to receive federal student aid based on performance and results.
Currently, regional and national accreditors are the gatekeepers for access to federal student financial aid. The president’s plan would tie federal aid to government-dictated learning outcomes.
That forced the Catholic Higher Education Advocate to ask “how the federal government having an increased role in accreditation requirements bodes well for Catholic institutions?”
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