Education enrollment laws are designed to help maintain fairness and transparency in the admissions selection process and help to protect the rights of students. Compliance maintains the integrity of the education system.
Several trends have emerged in post-secondary education compliance over the past few years. They reflect the dynamic landscape of regulations and the growing emphasis on equity, transparency, and accountability in education. Following are five key trends in post-secondary education compliance:
- Increased focus on diversity and inclusion: There has been a heightened focus on ensuring diversity and inclusion in post-secondary education. This includes promoting access and opportunities for underrepresented groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and first-generation students. Institutions are implementing strategies to address these disparities and comply with regulations related to equal opportunity and affirmative action.
- Stricter data protection and privacy regulations: With the increasing digitization of education, there has been a greater emphasis on data protection and privacy. Regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and other States that are following suit, and various data protection laws in different countries are impacting how educational institutions collect, store, and use student data. Compliance efforts are centered around safeguarding student information, obtaining proper consent, and ensuring secure data management practices.
- Enhanced compliance monitoring and reporting: Regulatory bodies and accreditation agencies are placing greater importance on monitoring and reporting compliance. Educational institutions are expected to establish robust compliance programs, conduct regular self-assessments, and maintain accurate records to demonstrate adherence to regulations. Compliance audits and assessments are becoming more comprehensive and detailed, requiring institutions to provide evidence of compliance efforts.
- Evolving regulations related to online and distance education: The rise of online learning and distance education has prompted the development of specific compliance regulations in this domain. Institutions offering online programs must navigate regulations related to state authorization, online student privacy, accessibility, and quality assurance. Compliance efforts are focused on ensuring that online programs meet the same standards as traditional on-campus offerings.
- Emphasis on ethical recruitment and marketing practices: Compliance in post-secondary education also extends to recruitment and marketing practices. Educational institutions are expected to maintain ethical standards in their student recruitment efforts, ensuring accuracy and transparency in promotional materials, admissions information, and financial aid offerings. Compliance efforts aim to prevent deceptive practices and ensure that prospective students have access to accurate and reliable information.
It is essential that educational institutions are tuned in to compliance requirements as they evolve. For example, Education department officials call for new Gainful Employment regulations, released in May 2023, as the Education Department officials hailed the regulations as the strongest ever.
“Today the Department of Education is proposing the strongest protections against unaffordable college debt in history.”Secretary Miguel Cardona
And the newly finalized federal 90/10 rule caps the percentage of revenue that a proprietary school can receive from federal financial aid sources at 90%; the other 10% of revenue must come from alternative sources. Effective July 1, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance earlier this year.
And in April. The docket included amending regulations on accreditation, cash management, return to Title IV, TRIO programs, state authorization, the definition of distance education and third-party servicers at negotiated rule-making hearings before committees begin meetings this Fall.
Institutions can look to the U.S Department of Education and various national industry associations for compliance guidance:
The U.S. Department of Education: The Department of Education is responsible for enforcing federal laws and regulations related to post-secondary education. They provide guidance and information on compliance regulations, including the Higher Education Act (HEA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and more.
National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC): NACAC is a professional organization that provides guidance and support to college admission professionals. They offer resources and training on ethical and legal practices related to admission and enrollment, including compliance with federal regulations.
Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U): The AAC&U is an organization dedicated to promoting and advancing liberal education. They offer resources and guidance related to compliance with federal regulations, including Title IX and the Clery Act.
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA): NASFAA is a professional organization that represents financial aid professionals. They provide guidance and training related to compliance with federal regulations related to financial aid, including the Higher Education Act (HEA), Federal Student Aid Handbook, and more.
Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA): CHEA is an organization that works to promote academic quality and accountability. They provide resources and guidance related to compliance with accreditation standards and regulations, which are critical for post-secondary education institutions.
Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) engages in advocacy, communications, professional development, and research that advances the work of the proprietary sector of higher education.
The Career Schools Private Education Network (CSPEN) provides private post-secondary educational institutions with access to resources and information designed to assist the institutional community in achieving compliance with state and federal legislative requirements and regulatory requirements.
It was recently announced that the Department of Education would be mystery shopping all colleges & universities to evaluate performance. Stay up to date, be compliant and be part of maintaining integrity of the education system.