Under the Dome

Burr to U.S. Education Department: New higher ed regulations aren’t clear enough

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., is asking Education Secretary Arne Duncan for more information about how the Education Department plans to regulate colleges and universities, saying that lack of clarity is putting student financial aid at risk.

The new regulations go into effect July 1 after a series of delays, Burr said in a letter to Duncan this week that Burr’s office made public on Wednesday.

Burr asked that the department release the names of states and state agencies that have established policies that meet the department’s guidelines. The senator from Winston-Salem said that the department hasn’t been clear enough about what it takes to be considered compliant with the regulations. As a result, he said, “institutions of higher education are stuck in limbo with the threat of Title IV financial assistance for students even while making good faith efforts to comply.”

Title IV refers to the section of the higher education law that deals with student loans, federal grants such as Pell Grants, and the federal work-study program. The Department of Education can punish schools by taking away the aid, but has never gone so far as to do that.

Burr was one of a bipartisan group of senators who set up a task force to recommend ways the regulations could be streamlined. The group issued a report in February. Burr at the time said it confirmed the extent of problems with too many regulations on colleges and universities.