Washington Update

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) Proposes Accreditation Reform

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Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has proposed setting up a new independent board to accredit free online courses, in addition to announcing his support for a proposal by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) permitting states and companies to accredit academic courses. The White House has also floated the idea of creating a new system of accreditation aimed at measuring both the cost and value of higher education, with those measurements linked in some way to federal financial aid.

Rubio explained in a February 10 speech: “Action on this issue can and should be swift... Members of both parties are beginning to realize that for every day we delay bold accreditation reform, our education system leaves more Americans behind to languish in a dwindling market.”

Rubio suggested prioritizing two other notable higher education proposals: setting the default payment plan for federal student loans as income-based, and creating an alternative to student loans known as “Student Investment Plans” to be used to pay for college tuition. These plans would be run by an “approved and certified private investment group” that would finance a student’s tuition in exchange for taking a fixed percentage of that student’s income for a set period of time after the student graduates. The Student Investment Plan would consider a student’s major of study, matriculating institution and academic record to develop a repayment formula.

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