Laws & Guidance HIGHER EDUCATION
1998 Amendments to Higher Education Act of 1965
P.L. 105-244

TITLE IV--STUDENT ASSISTANCE

PART H--PROGRAM INTEGRITY

SEC. 492. ACCREDITING AGENCY RECOGNITION.

(a) RECOGNITION-

(1) SUBPART HEADING- The heading of subpart 2 of part H is amended by striking `Approval' and inserting `Recognition'.

(2) SECTION 496 HEADING- The heading of section 496 is amended by striking `approval' and inserting `recognition'.

(b) STANDARDS- Section 496(a) (20 U.S.C. 1099b(a)) is amended--

(1) in the subsection heading, by striking `STANDARDS' and inserting `CRITERIA';

(2) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking `standards' each place the term appears and inserting `criteria';

(3) in paragraph (4)--

(A) by striking `at the institution' and inserting `offered by the institution'; and

(B) by inserting `, including distance education courses or programs,' after `higher education'; and

(4) in paragraph (5)--

(A) by striking `of accreditation' and inserting `for accreditation';

(B) by striking subparagraphs (H), (I), and (J);

(C) by redesignating subparagraphs (A) through (G) as subparagraphs (B) through (H), respectively;

(D) by redesignating subparagraphs (K) and (L) as subparagraphs (I) and (J), respectively;

(E) by inserting before subparagraph (B) the following:

`(A) success with respect to student achievement in relation to the institution's mission, including, as appropriate, consideration of course completion, State licensing examinations, and job placement rates;';

(F) in subparagraph (H) (as redesignated by subparagraph (C)), by striking `program length and tuition and fees in relation to the subject matters taught' and inserting `measures of program length';

(G) in subparagraph (J) (as redesignated by subparagraph (D))--

(i) by inserting `record of' before `compliance';

(ii) by striking `Act, including any' and inserting `Act based on the most recent student loan default rate data provided by the Secretary, the'; and

(iii) by inserting `any' after `reviews, and'; and

(H) in the matter following subparagraph (J) (as redesignated by subparagraph (D)), by striking `(G), (H), (I), (J), and (L)' and inserting `(A), (H), and (J)';

(5) in paragraph (7), by striking `State postsecondary review entity' and inserting `State licensing or authorizing agency'; and

(6) in paragraph (8), by striking `State postsecondary' and everything that follows through `is located' and inserting `State licensing or authorizing agency'.

(c) OPERATING PROCEDURES- Section 496(c) is amended--

(1) by striking `approved by the Secretary' and inserting `recognized by the Secretary'; and

(2) in paragraph (1), by striking `(at least' and everything that follows through `unannounced),' and inserting `(which may include unannounced site visits)'.

(d) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS- Section 496 is further amended--

(1) in subsection (d)--

(A) by striking `APPROVAL' in the heading of such subsection and inserting `RECOGNITION'; and

(B) by striking `approved' and inserting `recognized';

(2) in subsection (f), by striking `approved' and inserting `recognized';

(3) in subsection (g)--

(A) in the heading of such subsection, by striking `STANDARDS' and inserting `CRITERIA'; and

(B) by striking `standards' the first place such term appears and inserting `criteria';

(4) in subsection (k)--

(A) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking `section 481' and inserting `section 102'; and

(B) in paragraph (2), by striking `standards' and inserting `criteria';

(5) in subsection (l), by striking everything preceding paragraph (2) and inserting the following:

`(l) LIMITATION, SUSPENSION, OR TERMINATION OF RECOGNITION- (1) If the Secretary determines that an accrediting agency or association has failed to apply effectively the criteria in this section, or is otherwise not in compliance with the requirements of this section, the Secretary shall--

`(A) after notice and opportunity for a hearing, limit, suspend, or terminate the recognition of the agency or association; or

`(B) require the agency or association to take appropriate action to bring the agency or association into compliance with such requirements within a timeframe specified by the Secretary, except that--

`(i) such timeframe shall not exceed 12 months unless the Secretary extends such period for good cause; and

`(ii) if the agency or association fails to bring the agency or association into compliance within such timeframe, the Secretary shall, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, limit, suspend, or terminate the recognition of the agency or association.'; and

(6) in subsection (n)--

(A) by striking `standards' each place the term appears and inserting `criteria';

(B) in paragraph (3)--

(i) by striking `approval process' and inserting `recognition process';

(ii) by striking `approval or disapproval' and inserting `recognition or denial of recognition'; and

(iii) by adding at the end the following: `When the Secretary decides to recognize an accrediting agency or association, the Secretary shall determine the agency or association's scope of recognition. If the agency or association reviews institutions offering distance education courses or programs and the Secretary determines that the agency or association meets the requirements of this section, then the agency shall be recognized and the scope of recognition shall include accreditation of institutions offering distance education courses or programs.'; and

(C) by striking paragraph (4) and inserting the following:

`(4) The Secretary shall maintain sufficient documentation to support the conclusions reached in the recognition process, and, if the Secretary does not recognize any accreditation agency or association, shall make publicly available the reason for denying recognition, including reference to the specific criteria under this section which have not been fulfilled.'.

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Last Modified: 09/25/2003