State Legislative and Regulatory Activity Update – August 23, 2012

In Arkansas, three legislators – including Representative Johnnie Roebuck (D), who serves as the House co-chair of the Arkansas Legislative Council's Higher Education Subcommittee, and Senator Sue Madison (D), the Senate co-chair of the Subcommittee – have formally requested that the Interim House Committee on Education "study the impact of for-profit institutions of higher education on Arkansas students."

In the request, they state "many for-profit institutions of higher education cost substantially more than state-supported and nonprofit institutions of higher education, leading to excessive debt burdens on students."  Additionally, "many students of for-profit institutions of higher education claim that the degree they earned is not enabling them to obtain employment in the field of study they trained in or is not transferrable to another institution of higher education."

To date, the House Education Committee has not taken up or calendared the request.

On August 17, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law A.B. 7859 which eliminates the distinction between "licensed private schools" and "registered business schools."  The bill, which has numerous provisions of interest to non-degree schools in New York State, contains language restricting the amount of private loan payments that a school could receive on behalf of a student prior to their completing a program.  Accordingly, private loans less than $5,000 may be disbursed as a single disbursement regardless of course length.  Loans greater than $5,000 for a class term less than six months shall have "two equal disbursements" and loans greater than $5,000 for class terms greater than six months and less than one year will have "three equal disbursements."  The final of which will be release two-thirds of the way through the course term.  Four equal disbursements are required for a class term greater than one year.

On the regulatory front, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission is currently discussing rule amendments concerning higher education institutions.  Of note, the proposed modifications would allow national accredited institutions to use the term "college" without an appropriate qualifier.  The proposal continues to restrict "traditional degrees," including A.A., A.S. and M.B.A., to regional accredited institutions, but adds new language that would authorize THEC to issue an exemption if "the institution has articulation agreements with two (2) regionally accredited institutions with physical locations in the Southeast region."

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