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Final Rule: Accrediting Agencies

FR part
III
Attachments:
PublicationDate: 10/20/99
FRPart: III
RegPartsAffected: Citation : (R)602.1
PageNumbers: 56611-56626
Summary: Final Rule: Accrediting Agencies
CommentDueDate:

  
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[Federal Register: October 20, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 202)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 56611-56626]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr20oc99-29]


[[Page 56611]]

_______________________________________________________________________

Part III





Department of Education





_______________________________________________________________________



34 CFR Part 602



The Secretary's Recognition of Accrediting Agencies; Final Rule


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Part 602

RIN 1845-AA09


The Secretary's Recognition of Accrediting Agencies

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Final regulations.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Secretary amends the regulations governing the Secretary's
recognition of accrediting agencies to implement provisions added to
the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), by the Higher
Education Amendments of 1998. The Secretary recognizes accrediting
agencies to assure that those agencies are, for HEA and other Federal
purposes, reliable authorities regarding the quality of education or
training offered by the institutions or programs they accredit.

DATES: These regulations are effective July 1, 2000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen W. Kershenstein, U.S. Department
of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3012, ROB-3, Washington,
DC 20202-5244. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf
(TDD), you may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-
800-877-8339.
Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an
alternate format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer
diskette) on request to the contact person listed in the preceding
paragraph.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The regulations in this document were
developed through the use of negotiated rulemaking. Section 492 of the
Higher Education Act requires that, before publishing any proposed
regulations to implement programs under Title IV of the Act, the
Secretary obtain public involvement in the development of the proposed
regulations. After obtaining advice and recommendations, the Secretary
must conduct a negotiated rulemaking process to develop the proposed
regulations. All proposed regulations must conform to agreements
resulting from the negotiated rulemaking process unless the Secretary
reopens that process or explains any departure from the agreements to
the negotiated rulemaking participants.
These regulations were published in proposed form in the Federal
Register on June 25, 1999 (64 FR 34466) in conformance with the
consensus of the negotiated rulemaking committee. Under the committee's
protocols, consensus meant that no member of the committee dissented
from the agreed-upon language. The Secretary invited comments on the
proposed regulations by August 24, 1999, and several comments were
received. An analysis of the comments and of the changes in the
proposed regulations follows.
In the preamble to the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), we
discussed the changes we proposed to improve the accrediting agency
recognition process. The major changes included the following:
<bullet> Revising and reordering the standards accrediting agencies
must have.
<bullet> Providing a maximum timeframe for agencies to come into
compliance with the criteria for recognition (called the ``12-month
rule'').
<bullet> Including distance education in the scope of an agency's
recognition.
Other proposed changes included in the NPRM were the result of
discussion and subsequent consensus among negotiators about how to
improve the current regulations by clarifying existing regulatory
language and eliminating redundancies.
These final regulations contain several changes resulting from the
26 public comments we received. Most of the changes are clarifications
of the regulatory language rather than substantive changes.
We discuss substantive changes under the sections of the
regulations to which they pertain. We discuss major issues according to
subject, with appropriate sections of the regulations referenced in
parentheses. Generally, we do not address technical and other minor
changes in the proposed regulations, and do not respond to comments
suggesting changes that the Secretary is not authorized by law to make,
e.g., requiring accrediting agencies to conduct unannounced
inspections. Finally, we do not address comments directed at our
processes, such as a comment that the regulations should be revised to
say that we will evaluate the consistency of an accrediting agency's
application of standards on the basis of ``actual fact.''

Analysis of Comments and Changes

Required Accreditation Standards (Sec. 602.16)

Comments: One commenter believed that the regulations needed to
include a definition of ``effectively,'' which appears in 602.16(a)(1).
This commenter suggested that the definition state that ``input demands
cannot override student learning.'' Another commenter asked what data,
factors, or other elements we will use to determine if an agency's
standards effectively address each area for which the agency is
required to have a standard.
Discussion: We disagree with the alternative language suggested by
the first commenter. ``Student learning'' is extremely important, but
it is difficult to assess comprehensively. Furthermore, success with
respect to student achievement is only one of the areas for which
Congress has mandated that agencies have standards.
While we appreciate the desire for some type of benchmark in the
regulations by which to measure the effectiveness of an agency's
standards, we believe the issue is quite complex, and any attempt to
define the issue thoroughly would be over-regulation at best. Aspects
of effectiveness are found in the agency's standards themselves, in the
agency's efforts to conduct a systematic program of review that
demonstrates that its standards are adequate to evaluate educational
quality and relevant to the education and training needs of students,
and in the agency's application of its standards, policies, and
procedures. As desirable as it might be to try to define
``effectiveness'' in a manner that encompasses and quantifies all of
these perspectives, we believe a more reasoned approach is one of
seeking patterns of evidence that, taken collectively, demonstrate
effectiveness.
Change: None.

Success With Respect to Student Achievement (Sec. 602.16(a)(1))

Comments: While several commenters expressed satisfaction with our
overall approach to the requirement that agencies have a standard that
assesses success with respect to student achievement, one commenter
expressed concern that the regulations failed to make student
achievement the ``touchstone'' of accreditation. To remedy this
situation, the commenter suggested that this section include a
statement that an accrediting agency will not be considered to be a
reliable authority regarding educational quality if it denies
accreditation to an institution because the institution does not adhere
to the agency's input standards even though the institution achieves
success with respect to student achievement in relation to its mission.
Another commenter felt the regulations needed to make it clear that
agencies are not required to measure success with respect to student
achievement using a particular assessment strategy.
Discussion: As we explained previously, we believe requiring
success with respect to student achievement to

[[Page 56613]]

override all other areas for which Congress requires agencies to have
standards would conflict with the intent of Congress. We agree that
agencies should be permitted flexibility in selecting strategies for
measuring success with respect to student achievement. We recognize
that assessing success with respect to student achievement is a
complex, multi-dimensional problem. For this reason, we discussed in
the preamble to the NPRM a number of measures that an agency could use,
or could require its institutions or programs to use, in the assessment
of student achievement. The key, we believe, is the measurement of
success with respect to student achievement in relation to
institutional mission. Different institutional missions may dictate
different measures, and agencies should be free to choose the measure
or measures they believe to be best suited to the types of institutions
or programs they accredit, provided they can demonstrate that those
measures are effective.
Change: None.

The ``12-Month'' Rule (Secs. 602.32 and 602.35)

Comments: We received numerous comments about these sections of the
regulations that deal with the provision in the 1998 Amendments to the
HEA requiring the Secretary to limit, suspend, or terminate the
recognition of an agency if the agency either does not meet the
criteria for recognition or is ineffective in its performance with
respect to the criteria. Alternatively, the statute permits the
Secretary to grant an agency a period of no more than 12 months during
which it must come into compliance or demonstrate effectiveness in its
performance. If it fails to do so within the specified timeframe, then
the statute requires the Secretary to limit, suspend, or terminate the
agency's recognition.
Many commenters felt the regulations needed to specify when the 12-
month period begins. They also felt that it should begin on the date of
the Secretary's decision.
One commenter felt that the regulations needed to define what
constitutes good cause. The commenter felt that the regulations should
make it clear that the Secretary is expected to grant extensions only
for demonstrable exigency and lack of fault and that extensions of the
timeframe should be rare and brief.
Many commenters raised questions about how we will review agencies
under this provision. In particular, they questioned how some of our
previous citations of agencies as being ``in need of strengthening''
compliance will be handled under the 12-month rule.
Finally, several commenters expressed the opinion that the
regulations should give the National Advisory Committee or the
Secretary some latitude in implementing the 12-month rule, either for
the benefit of agencies that are trying to improve their processes or
to allow agencies to continue to be recognized despite their
noncompliance with some of the criteria.
One commenter thought the regulations needed to make it clear that
recognized agencies maintain their status as recognized agencies even
if they are under a deferral or until a decision on their application
for continued recognition has been reached.
Discussion: We understand and appreciate the many concerns that
commenters, most of whom were affiliated with recognized accrediting
agencies, expressed about this new, statutorily mandated provision. We
note that some of the concerns are directed toward process, i.e., how
we will implement this provision, rather than toward the provision
itself, and we generally do not address process in the regulations.
With regard to the issue of when the 12-month period begins, we
note that some of the commenters appear to assume that the Secretary
must always give agencies 12 months to correct whatever problem caused
the Secretary to decide to defer a decision on the agency's application
for recognition. That is incorrect. Nevertheless, we believe it would
be useful for the regulations to establish clearly that whatever
deferral period the Secretary grants, that period begins on the date of
the Secretary's deferral decision.
On the issue of defining good cause in the regulations, we note
that negotiators carefully considered whether the regulations should
define ``good cause'' and in the end concluded that it was best not to
define this term. Instead, the burden rests with an agency that has
failed to meet the statutory deadline to demonstrate that good cause
exists for the Secretary to grant a request for an extension of time.
With regard to the call for greater flexibility to continue to
recognize agencies that are not in full compliance, no change can be
made because the statute does not allow for greater flexibility.
Finally, the proposed regulations were intended to convey that a
recognized agency maintains its status as a recognized agency even if
action on its continued recognition has been deferred or a decision on
recognition has not been reached. Deferral is not a final decision.
Changes: We have changed 602.35(b)(3)(iii) to state that the
deferral period begins on the date of the Secretary's decision. We have
also changed 602.35(d) to clarify that recognition of a recognized
agency continues until the Secretary reaches a final decision to
approve or deny recognition.

Distance Education and Scope of Recognition (Sec. 602.3)

Comments: Several commenters expressed concerns about the inclusion
of distance education in the scope of an agency's recognition. Most of
their comments focused on whether agencies would have to go through a
separate review process before distance education would be included in
their scope of recognition, although one commenter asked why distance
education, which the commenter described as ``just one particular type
of instructional methodology,'' should be included in an agency's scope
of recognition.
Discussion: The 1998 amendments to the Higher Education Act clearly
require us to evaluate distance education accrediting activities as
part of the recognition process and to include distance education as a
component in determining the scope of an agency's recognition. We do
not envision implementing this provision by requiring agencies to go
through a separate review process to have distance education included
in their scope. Rather, we will observe and evaluate, as part of our
regular review of an agency for initial or continued recognition, the
agency's compliance with the criteria for recognition, including the
agency's compliance in accrediting distance education programs and
institutions.
Change: None.

Section 602.3 Definitions

Adverse action
Comments: One commenter felt that show cause and probation should
be considered adverse actions to allow accrediting agencies to work
more effectively with institutions that need more time to improve. In
raising this issue, the commenter noted that students are the ones who
are hurt most if schools have to close if they lose their
accreditation. Another commenter, however, supported the change we
proposed that excludes show cause and probation from the term ``adverse
action.''
Discussion: We continue to believe that including interim actions
such as

[[Page 56614]]

probation and show cause as adverse actions would permit a noncompliant
institution or program to retain accreditation or preaccreditation well
beyond the maximum timeframes the regulations prescribe. It would also
put students at risk because the quality of education provided by the
institution or program might suffer as a result of the institution's or
program's noncompliance with the agency's standards. We believe that
the provision in 602.20(b), allowing an agency to extend the timeframe
for coming into compliance for good cause, gives the agency the
flexibility it needs on a case-by-case basis to deal with situations in
which the agency believes there is justification for giving the
institution or program more time.
Change: None.

Representative of the public

Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the proposed
definition does not state that a student may serve as a representative
of the public.
Discussion: We continue to believe, as we stated in the preamble to
the final regulations previously amending this part 602, published
April 29, 1994 (59 FR 22250) (the 1994 regulations), that it is useful
for agencies to include students and members of their families as
representatives of the public. The students are the consumers in this
context. However, the definition we proposed in the NPRM, which is the
same as the definition in the 1994 regulations, does not preclude
selection of students or their family members for this purpose.
Therefore, there is no need to change the definition.
Change: None.

Vocational Education

Comment: One commenter requested that we add a definition of
``vocational education'' to 602.3, noting that we mentioned the term in
the discussion of success with respect to student achievement in the
preamble to the NPRM.
Discussion: The term is not used in the regulations. Therefore,
there is no need to define it.
Change: None.

Section 602.14 Purpose and Organization

Comments: One commenter suggested that recognized agencies be
exempt from demonstrating compliance with this section when they apply
for continued recognition if they were found to be in compliance the
last time they were reviewed and their structure has not changed since
then. Another commenter believed that the provisions related to the
waiver of the ``separate and independent'' requirement nullify the
availability of the waiver and are not consistent with the statute.
Discussion: We believe the suggestion that recognized agencies not
be required to demonstrate compliance with 602.14 when they apply for
continued recognition has merit. However, we do not think a regulatory
change is needed to implement it. We expect to develop new guidelines
for agencies on how to submit petitions for recognition under these
regulations, and we will implement this suggestion in those materials.
With respect to the waiver of the ``separate and independent''
requirement, we disagree with the commenter's conclusion that the
regulations are inconsistent with the statute and nullify the
availability of the waiver. We note that the regulations on this point
remain unchanged from those issued in 1994.
Change: None.

Section 602.15 Administrative and Fiscal Responsibilities

Comment: One commenter suggested that the composition of on-site
evaluation teams should be reconsidered but offered no specific
suggestions for change.
Discussion: Even though the commenter provided no specific
suggestions, we reconsidered the proposed language in 602.15(a)(3) and
(4) governing the composition of an agency's evaluation, policy, and
decision-making bodies. We found that the language allowed an agency
that accredited a single-purpose institution, such as a freestanding
law school, to satisfy the regulations by simply having educators,
i.e., academic and administrative personnel, on these bodies and not
any practitioners. While we know that most agencies that accredit
single-purpose institutions include practitioners on their evaluation
teams, we felt it was important that the regulations require this
practice.
Change: We have modified 602.15(a)(4) to require an agency to have
educators and practitioners on its evaluation, policy, and decision-
making bodies if it accredits programs or single-purpose institutions
that prepare students for a specific profession.

Section 602.19 Monitoring and Reevaluation of Accredited Institutions
and Programs

Comment: Two commenters expressed concern about the discussion in
the preamble of the NPRM about agencies' responsibilities for
monitoring accredited institutions and programs throughout the
accreditation period. Specifically, they objected to the statement that
an agency's monitoring procedures must provide for prompt and
appropriate action by an agency whenever it receives substantial,
credible evidence from any reliable source, including the courts, that
indicates a systemic problem that calls into question the ability of an
institution or program to meet the agency's standards. They also
objected to the statement in the preamble that we find it unacceptable
for an agency to have as its policy that it will not look at, or take
appropriate action based upon, information that comes to its attention
through pending third-party litigation. The commenters felt that our
position would place the agency in the middle of the litigation.
Discussion: The comments are directed to preamble, rather than
regulatory, language, so there is no need to make any changes to the
regulations. Agencies, under the regulations, have a responsibility to
monitor institutions and programs throughout their accreditation period
to ensure that educational quality is maintained and to take
appropriate action whenever they receive substantial, credible evidence
from any reliable source that calls into question the quality of the
education or training provided by the institution or program. That
obligation applies with respect to information the agency obtains as a
result of litigation, just as it applies to information obtained from
other sources.
Change: None.

Section 602.21 Review of Standards

Comments: Most commenters liked the proposed regulations, which
require agencies to maintain a systematic program of review that
demonstrates their standards are adequate to evaluate the quality of
education or training provided by the institutions and programs they
accredit and relevant to the needs of students. Two commenters,
however, preferred the language in the 1994 regulations, which required
agencies to maintain a systematic program of review that demonstrated
their standards were valid and reliable indicators of educational
quality. One commenter thought the phrase ``relevant to the needs of
students'' in the proposed regulations should be replaced by the phrase
from the 1994 regulations, ``relevant to the education and training
needs of students,'' which the commenter believed was more appropriate.
Finally, one commenter stated that an agency's standards should not be
deemed adequate to evaluate the quality of education or relevant to the

[[Page 56615]]

needs of students if they resulted in the denial of accreditation to
schools that achieve student success in learning.
Discussion: The issue of the validation of standards through the
systematic review of an agency's standards was discussed at length
during negotiated rulemaking. The ultimate consensus that was reached
reflects negotiators' belief that the language in the proposed
regulations strikes a balance between overly prescriptive regulation of
agencies' standards and processes and a requirement that looks only at
an agency's review process and not at the substance of the standards.
It also avoids some of the problems encountered with the language in
the 1994 regulations that uses the terms ``validity'' and
``reliability,'' the interpretations of which, when applied in the
context of agencies' standards, were often misunderstood and misused.
We believe the comment about the need for agencies to demonstrate
that their standards are relevant to the education and training needs
of students, not simply the needs of students, has merit. However, we
disagree that an agency's standards should not be deemed adequate to
evaluate the quality of education or relevant to the needs of students
if its standards resulted in the denial of accreditation to schools
that achieve student success in learning. Demonstrating success with
respect to student achievement is certainly necessary to establishing
the adequacy of an agency's standards. By itself, however, such a
demonstration is by no means sufficient to ensure the adequacy of those
standards.
Change: We have changed 602.21(a) to require agencies to maintain a
systematic program of review that demonstrates their standards are
relevant to the education and training needs of students.

Section 602.21(c) Process for Changing Standards

Comment: Several commenters raised concerns that the proposed
regulations require an agency to provide notice about proposed changes
to standards only to its relevant constituencies but not to other
interested parties. One commenter felt regional accreditors should be
required to notify all institutions in their region, while specialized
accreditors should be required to provide notice to all institutions
that provide education in the field. Another commenter felt the
regulations should require agencies to give institutions opportunity
and adequate time to respond, with the knowledge that their comments
will be considered. Finally, one commenter felt the requirement for
agencies to complete an action to change a standard ``within a
reasonable period of time'' after a problem is found was too vague. The
commenter suggested as an alternative that agencies could demonstrate
that they have a formal process that allows changes to the standards to
occur in a systematic manner.
Discussion: During negotiated rulemaking, accreditors readily
acknowledged their responsibility to notify persons they knew to be
interested, but expressed concern about the burden and cost of
providing timely and effective notice to a large number of entities to
see if they might have an interest in commenting on proposed changes to
their standards. The language negotiators agreed upon was an attempt to
find a reasonable solution to the problem. Based on the comments we
received, we have reconsidered the matter. We believe the concept of
requiring a regional accreditor to notify all institutions in its
region of proposed changes to its standards has some merit, but that it
imposes a greater burden than necessary to address the concern. A more
reasonable approach, we believe, is to require an accrediting agency to
provide notice of proposed changes to its standards to all parties who
have made their interest known to the agency. This will ensure that all
who want notice will get it.
With regard to the comment that the regulations should require
agencies to give institutions opportunity and adequate time to respond,
we believe the regulations, by stating that agencies must give
``adequate opportunity to comment on the proposed changes,'' already do
this.
Finally, we do not believe the phrase ``within a reasonable period
of time'' is too vague. Rather, we believe it provides a degree of
flexibility to agencies in establishing schedules for meetings, within
a reasonable range.
Change: We have added the phrase ``and other parties who have made
their interest known to the agency'' to 602.21(c)(1).

Section 602.22(a)(vii) Substantive Change Procedures for Additional
Locations

Comments: Most commenters welcomed the changes to the requirement
for mandatory site visits to new sites within 6 months. One commenter,
however, wanted us to remove the requirement for a site visit to any
additional locations a school establishes.
Discussion: We continue to believe that there is need for an
accrediting agency to monitor an institution very closely as it begins
to operate more than just the main campus. While the need for that
close monitoring may diminish once the institution has gained
experience in establishing effective systems for the administration of
multiple sites, we do not believe that, in general, the addition of a
single additional site is sufficient for an institution to be able to
demonstrate that it has in place effective mechanisms to administer
multiple sites.
Change: None.

Section 602.24(b) Change in Ownership

Comment: One commenter stated that the proposed regulations did not
address a problem that existed with the 1994 regulations, namely that
an agency cannot conduct a site visit unless it is notified of the
change in ownership. The commenter suggested requiring agencies to
conduct the site visit within 6 months following the change, or
notification of the change, whichever comes later.
Discussion: The regulations require an agency's definition of
substantive change to include any change in the legal status, form of
control, or ownership of the institution. The agency's procedures for
handling substantive change must also require an institution to obtain
the agency's approval before the change is included in its scope of
accreditation of the institution. Thus, the situation the commenter
describes represents a failure by the school to follow the agency's
required procedures and should be dealt with by the agency. No
regulatory change is needed. Obviously, an agency can only conduct a
site visit if it knows about the change in ownership, and we would not
regard the agency as being in violation of the criteria for recognition
if it failed to conduct a visit within 6 months of the change solely
because it was not informed of the change at the time it occurred.
Change: None.

Section 602.24(c)(ii) Teach-outs

Comment: One commenter noted that the location of the closing
institution may not be very near other institutions that offer similar
programs and suggested that the regulations require the teach-out
institution to be as geographically proximate to the closing
institution as possible.
Discussion: We believe that this provision in the regulations must
balance the goal of achieving the most geographically proximate teach-
out with

[[Page 56616]]

the goal of ensuring, to the extent possible, that a teach-out is
offered. Sometimes there is no institution that is as close to the
closing institution as we might wish. In other instances, the most
geographically proximate institution does not want to provide the
teach-out, but another institution is willing to do so even if it is
not as close to the closing institution.
We believe the regulations contain the flexibility necessary to
best protect students. They address the proximity issue by requiring
the teach-out institution to demonstrate that it can provide students
access to the program without requiring them to move or travel
substantial distances.
Change: None.

Section 602.26 Notification of Accrediting Decisions

Comments: One commenter stated that the 24-hour rule for notifying
the public of final decisions to place an institution or program on
probation or an equivalent status or to deny, withdraw, suspend,
revoke, or terminate the accreditation or preaccreditation of an
institution or program was unclear. The commenter asked whether this
provision meant notifying the public in general, for example, by
posting the notice to the agency's web site, or whether it meant
telling anyone who happened to call the agency to inquire about the
institution or program.
Another commenter suggested that guaranty agencies be included in
the notification.
Discussion: With respect to the first commenter, we believe the
principal issue here is providing effective notice to the public. We
believe one way to do this is to post the information to the agency's
web site within 24 hours of notifying the institution or program, but
there may be other ways. The agency should have the flexibility to
decide the approach that suits it best. Certainly the agency should
give the information out to anyone who happens to call the agency
inquiring about the institution or program after the 24-hour timeframe.
We agree with the commenter who suggested that guaranty agencies
should receive notification about accrediting decisions. However, an
accrediting agency may not know which guaranty agencies service a
particular institution. Accordingly, the Department will establish a
process for forwarding this information, upon receipt, to guaranty
agencies.
Change: None.

Section 602.33 Appeal of an Advisory Committee Recommendation

Comments: One commenter thought that the 10-day timeframe for an
agency to file its intent to appeal an Advisory Committee
recommendation was too short. The commenter also questioned whether the
10-day timeframe meant 10 calendar days or 10 business days.
Discussion: We do not believe the 10-day timeframe to file an
intent to appeal an Advisory Committee recommendation is too short. An
agency knows the Advisory Committee's recommendation as soon as it is
made, and it need only submit a simple declaration of intent to appeal,
without any documentation, to meet the 10-day requirement. The
regulations permit the agency 30 days to submit the actual appeal,
along with any supporting documentation that agency may wish the
Secretary to consider.
On the issue of whether the timeframe refers to calendar or
business days, we note that all timeframes specified in these
regulations follow the same convention as in the previous regulations;
namely, they refer to calendar days, not business days.
Change: None.

Section 602.42 Appeal of the Subcommittee's Recommendation

Comments: One commenter thought that the selection of a
subcommittee of the Advisory Committee to conduct a hearing on whether
an agency's recognition should be limited, suspended, or terminated
should be done randomly.
Discussion: With regard to the composition of the subcommittee, the
principal issue is the availability of members to serve. The
subcommittee is only convened if Department staff has concluded that an
agency fails to comply with the criteria for recognition or is
ineffective with respect to those criteria, either of which is a very
serious situation and must be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Requiring that subcommittee members be selected on a completely random
basis, or even on a rotating basis, could jeopardize the Department's
ability to convene the subcommittee quickly.
Change: None.

Executive Order 12866

We have reviewed these final regulations in accordance with
Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, we have assessed
the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory action.
The potential costs associated with these final regulations are
those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have
determined to be necessary for a determination that an accrediting
agency that seeks recognition is in fact a reliable authority regarding
the quality of education or training provided by the institutions or
programs it accredits.
In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative
and qualitative--of these final regulations, we have determined that
the benefits of the regulations justify the costs.
We have also determined that this regulatory action does not unduly
interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the exercise of
their governmental functions.
We discussed the potential costs and benefits of these final
regulations in the preamble to the NPRM under the headings: Changes
From Existing Regulations (64 FR 34467-34473), Paperwork Reduction Act
of 1995 (64 FR 34474), and Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification (64
FR 34474).

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 does not require accrediting
agencies to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a
valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. We display
the valid OMB control number assigned to the collection of information
in these final regulations at the end of the affected sections of the
regulations.

Assessment of Educational Impact

In the NPRM we requested comments on whether the proposed
regulations would require transmission of information that any other
agency or authority of the United States gathers or makes available.
Based on the response to the NPRM and on our review, we have
determined that these final regulations do not require transmission of
information that any other agency or authority of the United States
gathers or makes available.

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[[Page 56617]]

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official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal
Regulations is available on GPO Access at:

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(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number does not apply.)

List of Subjects in 34 CFR Part 602

Colleges and universities, Education, Reporting and recordkeeping
requirements.

Dated: October 4, 1999.
Richard W. Riley,
Secretary of Education.
For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Secretary amends
title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations by revising part 602 to
read as follows:

PART 602--THE SECRETARY'S RECOGNITION OF ACCREDITING AGENCIES

Subpart A--General

Sec.
602.1 Why does the Secretary recognize accrediting agencies?
602.2 How do I know which agencies the Secretary recognizes?
602.3 What definitions apply to this part?

Subpart B--The Criteria for Recognition

Basic Eligibility Requirements

602.10 Link to Federal programs.
602.11 Geographic scope of accrediting activities.
602.12 Accrediting experience.
602.13 Acceptance of the agency by others.

Organizational and Administrative Requirements

602.14 Purpose and organization.
602.15 Administrative and fiscal responsibilities.

Required Standards and Their Application

602.16 Accreditation and preaccreditation standards.
602.17 Application of standards in reaching an accrediting
decision.
602.18 Ensuring consistency in decision-making.
602.19 Monitoring and reevaluation of accredited institutions and
programs.
602.20 Enforcement of standards.
602.21 Review of standards.

Required Operating Policies and Procedures

602.22 Substantive change.
602.23 Operating procedures all agencies must have.
602.24 Additional procedures certain institutional accreditors must
have.
602.25 Due process.
602.26 Notification of accrediting decisions.
602.27 Other information an agency must provide the Department.
602.28 Regard for decisions of States and other accrediting
agencies.

Subpart C--The Recognition Process

Application and Review by Department Staff

602.30 How does an agency apply for recognition?
602.31 How does Department staff review an agency's application?

Review by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and
Integrity

602.32 What is the role of the Advisory Committee and the senior
Department official in the review of an agency's application?
602.33 How may an agency appeal a recommendation of the Advisory
Committee?

Review and Decision by the Secretary

602.34 What does the Secretary consider when making a recognition
decision?
602.35 What information does the Secretary's recognition decision
include?
602.36 May an agency appeal the Secretary's final recognition
decision?

Subpart D--Limitation, Suspension, or Termination of Recognition

Limitation, Suspension, and Termination Procedures

602.40 How may the Secretary limit, suspend, or terminate an
agency's recognition?
602.41 What are the notice procedures?
602.42 What are the response and hearing procedures?
602.43 How is a decision on limitation, suspension, or termination
of recognition reached?

Appeal Rights and Procedures

602.44 How may an agency appeal the subcommittee's recommendation?
602.45 May an agency appeal the Secretary's final decision to
limit, suspend, or terminate its recognition?

Subpart E--Department Responsibilities

602.50 What information does the Department share with a recognized
agency about its accredited institutions and programs?

Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A--General


Sec. 602.1 Why does the Secretary recognize accrediting agencies?

(a) The Secretary recognizes accrediting agencies to ensure that
these agencies are, for the purposes of the Higher Education Act of
1965, as amended (HEA), or for other Federal purposes, reliable
authorities regarding the quality of education or training offered by
the institutions or programs they accredit.
(b) The Secretary lists an agency as a nationally recognized
accrediting agency if the agency meets the criteria for recognition
listed in subpart B of this part.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.2 How do I know which agencies the Secretary recognizes?

(a) Periodically, the Secretary publishes a list of recognized
agencies in the Federal Register, together with each agency's scope of
recognition. You may obtain a copy of the list from the Department at
any time. The list is also available on the Department's web site.
(b) If the Secretary denies continued recognition to a previously
recognized agency, or if the Secretary limits, suspends, or terminates
the agency's recognition before the end of its recognition period, the
Secretary publishes a notice of that action in the Federal Register.
The Secretary also makes the reasons for the action available to the
public, on request.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.3 What definitions apply to this part?

The following definitions apply to this part:
Accreditation means the status of public recognition that an
accrediting agency grants to an educational institution or program that
meets the agency's standards and requirements.
Accrediting agency or agency means a legal entity, or that part of
a legal entity, that conducts accrediting activities through voluntary,
non-Federal peer review and makes decisions concerning the
accreditation or preaccreditation status of institutions, programs, or
both.
Act means the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.
Adverse accrediting action or adverse action means the denial,
withdrawal, suspension, revocation, or termination of accreditation or
preaccreditation, or any comparable accrediting action an agency may
take against an institution or program.
Advisory Committee means the National Advisory Committee on
Institutional Quality and Integrity.
Branch campus means a location of an institution that meets the
definition of branch campus in 34 CFR 600.2.
Distance education means an educational process that is
characterized by the separation, in time or place, between instructor
and student. The term includes courses offered principally through the
use of--
(1) Television, audio, or computer transmission, such as open
broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, or satellite transmission;
(2) Audio or computer conferencing;
(3) Video cassettes or disks; or
(4) Correspondence.
Final accrediting action means a final determination by an
accrediting agency regarding the accreditation or

[[Page 56618]]

preaccreditation status of an institution or program. A final
accrediting action is not appealable within the agency.
Institution of higher education or institution means an educational
institution that qualifies, or may qualify, as an eligible institution
under 34 CFR part 600.
Institutional accrediting agency means an agency that accredits
institutions of higher education.
Nationally recognized accrediting agency, nationally recognized
agency, or recognized agency means an accrediting agency that the
Secretary recognizes under this part.
Preaccreditation means the status of public recognition that an
accrediting agency grants to an institution or program for a limited
period of time that signifies the agency has determined that the
institution or program is progressing towards accreditation and is
likely to attain accreditation before the expiration of that limited
period of time.
Program means a postsecondary educational program offered by an
institution of higher education that leads to an academic or
professional degree, certificate, or other recognized educational
credential.
Programmatic accrediting agency means an agency that accredits
specific educational programs that prepare students for entry into a
profession, occupation, or vocation.
Representative of the public means a person who is not--
(1) An employee, member of the governing board, owner, or
shareholder of, or consultant to, an institution or program that either
is accredited or preaccredited by the agency or has applied for
accreditation or preaccreditation;
(2) A member of any trade association or membership organization
related to, affiliated with, or associated with the agency; or
(3) A spouse, parent, child, or sibling of an individual identified
in paragraph (1) or (2) of this definition.
Scope of recognition or scope means the range of accrediting
activities for which the Secretary recognizes an agency. The Secretary
may place a limitation on the scope of an agency's recognition for
Title IV, HEA purposes. The Secretary's designation of scope defines
the recognition granted according to--
(1) Geographic area of accrediting activities;
(2) Types of degrees and certificates covered;
(3) Types of institutions and programs covered;
(4) Types of preaccreditation status covered, if any; and
(5) Coverage of accrediting activities related to distance
education, if any.
Secretary means the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education
or any official or employee of the Department acting for the Secretary
under a delegation of authority.
Senior Department official means the senior official in the U.S.
Department of Education who reports directly to the Secretary regarding
accrediting agency recognition.
State means a State of the Union, American Samoa, the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, the United States
Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the
Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia,
and the Republic of Palau. The latter three are also known as the
Freely Associated States.
Teach-out agreement means a written agreement between institutions
that provides for the equitable treatment of students if one of those
institutions stops offering an educational program before all students
enrolled in that program have completed the program.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)

Subpart B--The Criteria for Recognition

Basic Eligibility Requirements


Sec. 602.10 Link to Federal programs.

The agency must demonstrate that--
(a) If the agency accredits institutions of higher education, its
accreditation is a required element in enabling at least one of those
institutions to establish eligibility to participate in HEA programs;
or
(b) If the agency accredits institutions of higher education or
higher education programs, or both, its accreditation is a required
element in enabling at least one of those entities to establish
eligibility to participate in non-HEA Federal programs.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.11 Geographic scope of accrediting activities.

The agency must demonstrate that its accrediting activities cover--
(a) A State, if the agency is part of a State government;
(b) A region of the United States that includes at least three
States that are reasonably close to one another; or
(c) The United States.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.12 Accrediting experience.

(a) An agency seeking initial recognition must demonstrate that it
has--
(1) Granted accreditation or preaccreditation--
(i) To one or more institutions if it is requesting recognition as
an institutional accrediting agency and to one or more programs if it
is requesting recognition as a programmatic accrediting agency;
(ii) That covers the range of the specific degrees, certificates,
institutions, and programs for which it seeks recognition; and
(iii) In the geographic area for which it seeks recognition; and
(2) Conducted accrediting activities, including deciding whether to
grant or deny accreditation or preaccreditation, for at least two years
prior to seeking recognition.
(b) A recognized agency seeking an expansion of its scope of
recognition must demonstrate that it has granted accreditation or
preaccreditation covering the range of the specific degrees,
certificates, institutions, and programs for which it seeks the
expansion of scope.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.13 Acceptance of the agency by others.

The agency must demonstrate that its standards, policies,
procedures, and decisions to grant or deny accreditation are widely
accepted in the United States by--
(a) Educators and educational institutions; and
(b) Licensing bodies, practitioners, and employers in the
professional or vocational fields for which the educational
institutions or programs within the agency's jurisdiction prepare their
students.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)

Organizational and Administrative Requirements


Sec. 602.14 Purpose and organization.

(a) The Secretary recognizes only the following four categories of
agencies:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Secretary recognizes . . that . . .
--------------.---------------------------------------------------------
(1) An accrediting agency.... (i) Has a voluntary membership of
institutions of higher education;

[[Page 56619]]


(ii) Has as a principal purpose the
accrediting of institutions of higher
education and that accreditation is a
required element in enabling those
institutions to participate in HEA
programs; and
(iii) Satisfies the ``separate and
independent'' requirements in paragraph
(b) of this section.
(2) An accrediting agency.... (i) Has a voluntary membership; and
(ii) Has as its principal purpose the
accrediting of higher education
programs, or higher education programs
and institutions of higher education,
and that accreditation is a required
element in enabling those entities to
participate in non-HEA Federal programs.
(3) An accrediting agency.... for purposes of determining eligibility
for Title IV, HEA programs--
(i) Either has a voluntary membership of
individuals participating in a
profession or has as its principal
purpose the accrediting of programs
within institutions that are accredited
by a nationally recognized accrediting
agency; and
(ii) Either satisfies the ``separate and
independent'' requirements in paragraph
(b) of this section or obtains a waiver
of those requirements under paragraphs
(d) and (e) of this section.
(4) A State agency........... (i) Has as a principal purpose the
accrediting of institutions of higher
education, higher education programs, or
both; and
(ii) The Secretary listed as a nationally
recognized accrediting agency on or
before October 1, 1991 and has
recognized continuously since that date.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

(b) For purposes of this section, the term separate and independent
means that--
(1) The members of the agency's decision-making body--who decide
the accreditation or preaccreditation status of institutions or
programs, establish the agency's accreditation policies, or both--are
not elected or selected by the board or chief executive officer of any
related, associated, or affiliated trade association or membership
organization;
(2) At least one member of the agency's decision-making body is a
representative of the public, and at least one-seventh of that body
consists of representatives of the public;
(3) The agency has established and implemented guide lines for each
member of the decision-making body to avoid conflicts of interest in
making decisions;
(4) The agency's dues are paid separately from any dues paid to any
related, associated, or affiliated trade association or membership
organization; and
(5) The agency develops and determines its own budget, with no
review by or consultation with any other entity or organization.
(c) The Secretary considers that any joint use of personnel,
services, equipment, or facilities by an agency and a related,
associated, or affiliated trade association or membership organization
does not violate the ``separate and independent'' requirements in
paragraph (b) of this section if--
(1) The agency pays the fair market value for its proportionate
share of the joint use; and
(2) The joint use does not compromise the independence and
confidentiality of the accreditation process.
(d) For purposes of paragraph (a)(3) of this section, the Secretary
may waive the ``separate and independent'' requirements in paragraph
(b) of this section if the agency demonstrates that--
(1) The Secretary listed the agency as a nationally recognized
agency on or before October 1, 1991 and has recognized it continuously
since that date;
(2) The related, associated, or affiliated trade association or
membership organization plays no role in making or ratifying either the
accrediting or policy decisions of the agency;
(3) The agency has sufficient budgetary and administrative autonomy
to carry out its accrediting functions independently; and
(4) The agency provides to the related, associated, or affiliated
trade association or membership organization only information it makes
available to the public.
(e) An agency seeking a waiver of the ``separate and independent''
requirements under paragraph (d) of this section must apply for the
waiver each time the agency seeks recognition or continued recognition.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.15 Administrative and fiscal responsibilities.

The agency must have the administrative and fiscal capability to
carry out its accreditation activities in light of its requested scope
of recognition. The agency meets this requirement if the agency
demonstrates that--
(a) The agency has--
(1) Adequate administrative staff and financial resources to carry
out its accrediting responsibilities;
(2) Competent and knowledgeable individuals, qualified by education
and experience in their own right and trained by the agency on its
standards, policies, and procedures, to conduct its on-site
evaluations, establish its policies, and make its accrediting and
preaccrediting decisions;
(3) Academic and administrative personnel on its evaluation,
policy, and decision-making bodies, if the agency accredits
institutions;
(4) Educators and practitioners on its evaluation, policy, and
decision-making bodies, if the agency accredits programs or single-
purpose institutions that prepare students for a specific profession;
(5) Representatives of the public on all decision-making bodies;
and
(6) Clear and effective controls against conflicts of interest, or
the appearance of conflicts of interest, by the agency's--
(i) Board members;
(ii) Commissioners;
(iii) Evaluation team members;
(iv) Consultants;
(v) Administrative staff; and
(vi) Other agency representatives; and
(b) The agency maintains complete and accurate records of--
(1) Its last two full accreditation or preaccreditation reviews of
each institution or program, including on-site evaluation team reports,
the institution's or program's responses to on-site reports, periodic
review reports, any reports of special reviews conducted by the agency
between regular reviews, and a copy of the institution's or program's
most recent self-study; and
(2) All decisions regarding the accreditation and preaccreditation
of any institution or program, including all correspondence that is
significantly related to those decisions.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control
number 1845-0003)

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


[[Page 56620]]


Required Standards and Their Application


Sec. 602.16 Accreditation and preaccreditation standards.

(a) The agency must demonstrate that it has standards for
accreditation, and preaccreditation, if offered, that are sufficiently
rigorous to ensure that the agency is a reliable authority regarding
the quality of the education or training provided by the institutions
or programs it accredits. The agency meets this requirement if--
(1) The agency's accreditation standards effectively address the
quality of the institution or program in the following areas:
(i) Success with respect to student achievement in relation to the
institution's mission, including, as appropriate, consideration of
course completion, State licensing examination, and job placement
rates.
(ii) Curricula.
(iii) Faculty.
(iv) Facilities, equipment, and supplies.
(v) Fiscal and administrative capacity as appropriate to the
specified scale of operations.
(vi) Student support services.
(vii) Recruiting and admissions practices, academic calendars,
catalogs, publications, grading, and advertising.
(viii) Measures of program length and the objectives of the degrees
or credentials offered.
(ix) Record of student complaints received by, or available to, the
agency.
(x) Record of compliance with the institution's program
responsibilities under Title IV of the Act, based on the most recent
student loan default rate data provided by the Secretary, the results
of financial or compliance audits, program reviews, and any other
information that the Secretary may provide to the agency; and
(2) The agency's preaccreditation standards, if offered, are
appropriately related to the agency's accreditation standards and do
not permit the institution or program to hold preaccreditation status
for more than five years.
(b) If the agency only accredits programs and does not serve as an
institutional accrediting agency for any of those programs, its
accreditation standards must address the areas in paragraph (a)(1) of
this section in terms of the type and level of the program rather than
in terms of the institution.
(c) If none of the institutions an agency accredits participates in
any Title IV, HEA program, or if the agency only accredits programs
within institutions that are accredited by a nationally recognized
institutional accrediting agency, the agency is not required to have
the accreditation standards described in paragraphs (a)(1)(viii) and
(a)(1)(x) of this section.
(d) An agency that has established and applies the standards in
paragraph (a) of this section may establish any additional
accreditation standards it deems appropriate.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control
number 1845-0003)

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.17 Application of standards in reaching an accrediting
decision.

The agency must have effective mechanisms for evaluating an
institution's or program's compliance with the agency's standards
before reaching a decision to accredit or preaccredit the institution
or program. The agency meets this requirement if the agency
demonstrates that it--
(a) Evaluates whether an institution or program--
(1) Maintains clearly specified educational objectives that are
consistent with its mission and appropriate in light of the degrees or
certificates awarded;
(2) Is successful in achieving its stated objectives; and
(3) Maintains degree and certificate requirements that at least
conform to commonly accepted standards;
(b) Requires the institution or program to prepare, following
guidance provided by the agency, an in-depth self-study that includes
the assessment of educational quality and the institution's or
program's continuing efforts to improve educational quality;
(c) Conducts at least one on-site review of the institution or
program during which it obtains sufficient information to determine if
the institution or program complies with the agency's standards;
(d) Allows the institution or program the opportunity to respond in
writing to the report of the on-site review;
(e) Conducts its own analysis of the self-study and supporting
documentation furnished by the institution or program, the report of
the on-site review, the institution's or program's response to the
report, and any other appropriate information from other sources to
determine whether the institution or program complies with the agency's
standards; and
(f) Provides the institution or program with a detailed written
report that assesses--
(1) The institution's or program's compliance with the agency's
standards, including areas needing improvement; and
(2) The institution's or program's performance with respect to
student achievement.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.18 Ensuring consistency in decision-making.

The agency must consistently apply and enforce its standards to
ensure that the education or training offered by an institution or
program, including any offered through distance education, is of
sufficient quality to achieve its stated objective for the duration of
any accreditation or preaccreditation period granted by the agency. The
agency meets this requirement if the agency--
(a) Has effective controls against the inconsistent application of
the agency's standards;
(b) Bases decisions regarding accreditation and preaccreditation on
the agency's published standards; and
(c) Has a reasonable basis for determining that the information the
agency relies on for making accrediting decisions is accurate.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.19 Monitoring and reevaluation of accredited institutions and
programs.

(a) The agency must reevaluate, at regularly established intervals,
the institutions or programs it has accredited or preaccredited.
(b) The agency must monitor institutions or programs throughout
their accreditation or preaccreditation period to ensure that they
remain in compliance with the agency's standards. This includes
conducting special evaluations or site visits, as necessary.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.20 Enforcement of standards.

(a) If the agency's review of an institution or program under any
standard indicates that the institution or program is not in compliance
with that standard, the agency must--
(1) Immediately initiate adverse action against the institution or
program; or
(2) Require the institution or program to take appropriate action
to bring itself into compliance with the agency's standards within a
time period that must not exceed--
(i) Twelve months, if the program, or the longest program offered
by the institution, is less than one year in length;
(ii) Eighteen months, if the program, or the longest program
offered by the institution, is at least one year, but less than two
years, in length; or
(iii) Two years, if the program, or the longest program offered by
the

[[Page 56621]]

institution, is at least two years in length.
(b) If the institution or program does not bring itself into
compliance within the specified period, the agency must take immediate
adverse action unless the agency, for good cause, extends the period
for achieving compliance.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.21 Review of standards.

(a) The agency must maintain a systematic program of review that
demonstrates that its standards are adequate to evaluate the quality of
the education or training provided by the institutions and programs it
accredits and relevant to the educational or training needs of
students.
(b) The agency determines the specific procedures it follows in
evaluating its standards, but the agency must ensure that its program
of review--
(1) Is comprehensive;
(2) Occurs at regular, yet reasonable, intervals or on an ongoing
basis;
(3) Examines each of the agency's standards and the standards as a
whole; and
(4) Involves all of the agency's relevant constituencies in the
review and affords them a meaningful opportunity to provide input into
the review.
(c) If the agency determines, at any point during its systematic
program of review, that it needs to make changes to its standards, the
agency must initiate action within 12 months to make the changes and
must complete that action within a reasonable period of time. Before
finalizing any changes to its standards, the agency must--
(1) Provide notice to all of the agency's relevant constituencies,
and other parties who have made their interest known to the agency, of
the changes the agency proposes to make;
(2) Give the constituencies and other interested parties adequate
opportunity to comment on the proposed changes; and
(3) Take into account any comments on the proposed changes
submitted timely by the relevant constituencies and by other interested
parties.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)
Required Operating Policies and Procedures


Sec. 602.22 Substantive change.

(a) If the agency accredits institutions, it must maintain adequate
substantive change policies that ensure that any substantive change to
the educational mission, program, or programs of an institution after
the agency has accredited or preaccredited the institution does not
adversely affect the capacity of the institution to continue to meet
the agency's standards. The agency meets this requirement if--
(1) The agency requires the institution to obtain the agency's
approval of the substantive change before the agency includes the
change in the scope of accreditation or preaccreditation it previously
granted to the institution; and
(2) The agency's definition of substantive change includes at least
the following types of change:
(i) Any change in the established mission or objectives of the
institution.
(ii) Any change in the legal status, form of control, or ownership
of the institution.
(iii) The addition of courses or programs that represent a
significant departure, in either content or method of delivery, from
those that were offered when the agency last evaluated the institution.
(iv) The addition of courses or programs at a degree or credential
level above that which is included in the institution's current
accreditation or preaccreditation.
(v) A change from clock hours to credit hours.
(vi) A substantial increase in the number of clock or credit hours
awarded for successful completion of a program.
(vii) The establishment of an additional location geographically
apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50
percent of an educational program.
(b) The agency may determine the procedures it uses to grant prior
approval of the substantive change. Except as provided in paragraph (c)
of this section, these may, but need not, require a visit by the
agency.
(c) If the agency's accreditation of an institution enables the
institution to seek eligibility to participate in Title IV, HEA
programs, the agency's procedures for the approval of an additional
location described in paragraph (a)(2)(vii) of this section must
determine if the institution has the fiscal and administrative capacity
to operate the additional location. In addition, the agency's
procedures must include--
(1) A visit, within six months, to each additional location the
institution establishes, if the institution--
(i) Has a total of three or fewer additional locations;
(ii) Has not demonstrated, to the agency's satisfaction, that it
has a proven record of effective educational oversight of additional
locations; or
(iii) Has been placed on warning, probation, or show cause by the
agency or is subject to some limitation by the agency on its
accreditation or preaccreditation status;
(2) An effective mechanism for conducting, at reasonable intervals,
visits to additional locations of institutions that operate more than
three additional locations; and
(3) An effective mechanism, which may, at the agency's discretion,
include visits to additional locations, for ensuring that accredited
and preaccredited institutions that experience rapid growth in the
number of additional locations maintain educational quality.
(d) The purpose of the visits described in paragraph (c) of this
section is to verify that the additional location has the personnel,
facilities, and resources it claimed to have in its application to the
agency for approval of the additional location.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.23 Operating procedures all agencies must have.

(a) The agency must maintain and make available to the public, upon
request, written materials describing--
(1) Each type of accreditation and preaccreditation it grants;
(2) The procedures that institutions or programs must follow in
applying for accreditation or preaccreditation;
(3) The standards and procedures it uses to determine whether to
grant, reaffirm, reinstate, restrict, deny, revoke, terminate, or take
any other action related to each type of accreditation and
preaccreditation that the agency grants;
(4) The institutions and programs that the agency currently
accredits or preaccredits and, for each institution and program, the
year the agency will next review or reconsider it for accreditation or
preaccreditation; and
(5) The names, academic and professional qualifications, and
relevant employment and organizational affiliations of--
(i) The members of the agency's policy and decision-making bodies;
and
(ii) The agency's principal administrative staff.
(b) In providing public notice that an institution or program
subject to its jurisdiction is being considered for accreditation or
preaccreditation, the agency must provide an opportunity for third-
party comment concerning the institution's or program's qualifications
for accreditation or preaccreditation. At the agency's discretion,
third-party comment may be received either in writing or at a public
hearing, or both.
(c) The accrediting agency must--
(1) Review in a timely, fair, and equitable manner any complaint it

[[Page 56622]]

receives against an accredited institution or program that is related
to the agency's standards or procedures;
(2) Take follow-up action, as necessary, including enforcement
action, if necessary, based on the results of its review; and
(3) Review in a timely, fair, and equitable manner, and apply
unbiased judgment to, any complaints against itself and take follow-up
action, as appropriate, based on the results of its review.
(d) If an institution or program elects to make a public disclosure
of its accreditation or preaccreditation status, the agency must ensure
that the institution or program discloses that status accurately,
including the specific academic or instructional programs covered by
that status and the name, address, and telephone number of the agency.
(e) The accrediting agency must provide for the public correction
of incorrect or misleading information an accredited or preaccredited
institution or program releases about--
(1) The accreditation or preaccreditation status of the institution
or program;
(2) The contents of reports of on-site reviews; and
(3) The agency's accrediting or preaccrediting actions with respect
to the institution or program.
(f) The agency may establish any additional operating procedures it
deems appropriate. At the agency's discretion, these may include
unannounced inspections.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control
number 1845-0003)

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.24 Additional procedures certain institutional accreditors
must have.

If the agency is an institutional accrediting agency and its
accreditation or preaccreditation enables those institutions to obtain
eligibility to participate in Title IV, HEA programs, the agency must
demonstrate that it has established and uses all of the following
procedures:
(a) Branch campus. (1) The agency must require the institution to
notify the agency if it plans to establish a branch campus and to
submit a business plan for the branch campus that describes--
(i) The educational program to be offered at the branch campus;
(ii) The projected revenues and expenditures and cash flow at the
branch campus; and
(iii) The operation, management, and physical resources at the
branch campus.
(2) The agency may extend accreditation to the branch campus only
after it evaluates the business plan and takes whatever other actions
it deems necessary to determine that the branch campus has sufficient
educational, financial, operational, management, and physical resources
to meet the agency's standards.
(3) The agency must undertake a site visit to the branch campus as
soon as practicable, but no later than six months after the
establishment of that campus.
(b) Change in ownership. The agency must undertake a site visit to
an institution that has undergone a change of ownership that resulted
in a change of control as soon as practicable, but no later than six
months after the change of ownership.
(c) Teach-out agreements. (1) The agency must require an
institution it accredits or preaccredits that enters into a teach-out
agreement with another institution to submit that teach-out agreement
to the agency for approval.
(2) The agency may approve the teach-out agreement only if the
agreement is between institutions that are accredited or preaccredited
by a nationally recognized accrediting agency, is consistent with
applicable standards and regulations, and provides for the equitable
treatment of students by ensuring that--
(i) The teach-out institution has the necessary experience,
resources, and support services to provide an educational program that
is of acceptable quality and reasonably similar in content, structure,
and scheduling to that provided by the closed institution; and
(ii) The teach-out institution demonstrates that it can provide
students access to the program and services without requiring them to
move or travel substantial distances.
(3) If an institution the agency accredits or preaccredits closes,
the agency must work with the Department and the appropriate State
agency, to the extent feasible, to ensure that students are given
reasonable opportunities to complete their education without additional
charge.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control
number 1845-0003)

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.25 Due process.

The agency must demonstrate that the procedures it uses throughout
the accrediting process satisfy due process. The agency meets this
requirement if the agency does the following:
(a) The agency uses procedures that afford an institution or
program a reasonable period of time to comply with the agency's
requests for information and documents.
(b) The agency notifies the institution or program in writing of
any adverse accrediting action or an action to place the institution or
program on probation or show cause. The notice describes the basis for
the action.
(c) The agency permits the institution or program the opportunity
to appeal an adverse action and the right to be represented by counsel
during that appeal. If the agency allows institutions or programs the
right to appeal other types of actions, the agency has the discretion
to limit the appeal to a written appeal.
(d) The agency notifies the institution or program in writing of
the result of its appeal and the basis for that result.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.26 Notification of accrediting decisions.

The agency must demonstrate that it has established and follows
written procedures requiring it to provide written notice of its
accrediting decisions to the Secretary, the appropriate State licensing
or authorizing agency, the appropriate accrediting agencies, and the
public. The agency meets this requirement if the agency, following its
written procedures--
(a) Provides written notice of the following types of decisions to
the Secretary, the appropriate State licensing or authorizing agency,
the appropriate accrediting agencies, and the public no later than 30
days after it makes the decision:
(1) A decision to award initial accreditation or preaccreditation
to an institution or program.
(2) A decision to renew an institution's or program's accreditation
or preaccreditation;
(b) Provides written notice of the following types of decisions to
the Secretary, the appropriate State licensing or authorizing agency,
and the appropriate accrediting agencies at the same time it notifies
the institution or program of the decision, but no later than 30 days
after it reaches the decision:
(1) A final decision to place an institution or program on
probation or an equivalent status.
(2) A final decision to deny, withdraw, suspend, revoke, or
terminate the accreditation or preaccreditation of an institution or
program;
(c) Provides written notice to the public of the decisions listed
in paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) of this section within 24 hours of its
notice to the institution or program;

[[Page 56623]]

(d) For any decision listed in paragraph (b)(2) of this section,
makes available to the Secretary, the appropriate State licensing or
authorizing agency, and the public upon request, no later than 60 days
after the decision, a brief statement summarizing the reasons for the
agency's decision and the comments, if any, that the affected
institution or program may wish to make with regard to that decision;
and
(e) Notifies the Secretary, the appropriate State licensing or
authorizing agency, the appropriate accrediting agencies, and, upon
request, the public if an accredited or preaccredited institution or
program--
(1) Decides to withdraw voluntarily from accreditation or
preaccreditation, within 30 days of receiving notification from the
institution or program that it is withdrawing voluntarily from
accreditation or preaccreditation; or
(2) Lets its accreditation or preaccreditation lapse, within 30
days of the date on which accreditation or preaccreditation lapses.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control
number 1845-0003)

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.27 Other information an agency must provide the Department.

The agency must submit to the Department--
(a) A copy of any annual report it prepares;
(b) A copy, updated annually, of its directory of accredited and
preaccredited institutions and programs;
(c) A summary of the agency's major accrediting activities during
the previous year (an annual data summary), if requested by the
Secretary to carry out the Secretary's responsibilities related to this
part;
(d) Any proposed change in the agency's policies, procedures, or
accreditation or preaccreditation standards that might alter its--
(1) Scope of recognition; or
(2) Compliance with the criteria for recognition;
(e) The name of any institution or program it accredits that the
agency has reason to believe is failing to meet its Title IV, HEA
program responsibilities or is engaged in fraud or abuse, along with
the agency's reasons for concern about the institution or program; and
(f) If the Secretary requests, information that may bear upon an
accredited or preaccredited institution's compliance with its Title IV,
HEA program responsibilities, including the eligibility of the
institution or program to participate in Title IV, HEA programs. The
Secretary may ask for this information to assist the Department in
resolving problems with the institution's participation in the Title
IV, HEA programs.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control
number 1845-0003)

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.28 Regard for decisions of States and other accrediting
agencies.

(a) If the agency is an institutional accrediting agency, it may
not accredit or preaccredit institutions that lack legal authorization
under applicable State law to provide a program of education beyond the
secondary level.
(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, the agency
may not grant initial or renewed accreditation or preaccreditation to
an institution, or a program offered by an institution, if the agency
knows, or has reasonable cause to know, that the institution is the
subject of--
(1) A pending or final action brought by a State agency to suspend,
revoke, withdraw, or terminate the institution's legal authority to
provide postsecondary education in the State;
(2) A decision by a recognized agency to deny accreditation or
preaccreditation;
(3) A pending or final action brought by a recognized accrediting
agency to suspend, revoke, withdraw, or terminate the institution's
accreditation or preaccreditation; or
(4) Probation or an equivalent status imposed by a recognized
agency.
(c) The agency may grant accreditation or preaccreditation to an
institution or program described in paragraph (b) of this section only
if it provides to the Secretary, within 30 days of its action, a
thorough and reasonable explanation, consistent with its standards, why
the action of the other body does not preclude the agency's grant of
accreditation or preaccreditation.
(d) If the agency learns that an institution it accredits or
preaccredits, or an institution that offers a program it accredits or
preaccredits, is the subject of an adverse action by another recognized
accrediting agency or has been placed on probation or an equivalent
status by another recognized agency, the agency must promptly review
its accreditation or preaccreditation of the institution or program to
determine if it should also take adverse action or place the
institution or program on probation or show cause.
(e) The agency must, upon request, share with other appropriate
recognized accrediting agencies and recognized State approval agencies
information about the accreditation or preaccreditation status of an
institution or program and any adverse actions it has taken against an
accredited or preaccredited institution or program.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control
number 1845-0003)

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)

Subpart C--The Recognition Process

Application and Review by Department Staff


Sec. 602.30 How does an agency apply for recognition?

(a) An accrediting agency seeking initial or continued recognition
must submit a written application to the Secretary. The application
must consist of--
(1) A statement of the agency's requested scope of recognition;
(2) Evidence that the agency complies with the criteria for
recognition listed in subpart B of this part; and
(3) Supporting documentation.
(b) By submitting an application for recognition, the agency
authorizes Department staff to observe its site visits and decision
meetings and to gain access to agency records, personnel, and
facilities on an announced or unannounced basis.
(c) The Secretary does not make available to the public any
confidential agency materials a Department employee reviews during the
evaluation of either the agency's application for recognition or the
agency's compliance with the criteria for recognition.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control
number 1845-0003)

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.31 How does Department staff review an agency's application?

(a) Upon receipt of an agency's application for either initial or
continued recognition, Department staff--
(1) Establishes a schedule for the review of the agency by
Department staff, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional
Quality and Integrity, and the Secretary;
(2) Publishes a notice of the agency's application in the Federal
Register, inviting the public to comment on the agency's compliance
with the criteria for recognition and establishing a deadline for
receipt of public comment; and
(3) Provides State licensing or authorizing agencies, all currently
recognized accrediting agencies, and other appropriate organizations
with copies of the Federal Register notice.
(b) Department staff analyzes the agency's application to determine

[[Page 56624]]

whether the agency satisfies the criteria for recognition, taking into
account all available relevant information concerning the compliance of
the agency with those criteria and any deficiencies in the agency's
performance with respect to the criteria. The analysis includes--
(1) Site visits, on an announced or unannounced basis, to the
agency and, at the Secretary's discretion, to some of the institutions
or programs it accredits or preaccredits;
(2) Review of the public comments and other third-party information
the Department staff receives by the established deadline, as well as
any other information Department staff assembles for purposes of
evaluating the agency under this part; and
(3) Review of complaints or legal actions involving the agency.
(c) Department staff's evaluation may also include a review of
information directly related to institutions or programs accredited or
preaccredited by the agency relative to their compliance with the
agency's standards, the effectiveness of the standards, and the
agency's application of those standards.
(d) If, at any point in its evaluation of an agency seeking initial
recognition, Department staff determines that the agency fails to
demonstrate substantial compliance with the basic eligibility
requirements in Secs. 602.10 through 602.13, the staff--
(1) Returns the agency's application and provides the agency with
an explanation of the deficiencies that caused staff to take that
action; and
(2) Recommends that the agency withdraw its application and reapply
when the agency can demonstrate compliance.
(e) Except with respect to an application that is withdrawn under
paragraph (d) of this section, when Department staff completes its
evaluation of the agency, the staff--
(1) Prepares a written analysis of the agency, which includes a
recognition recommendation;
(2) Sends the analysis and all supporting documentation, including
all third-party comments the Department received by the established
deadline, to the agency no later than 45 days before the Advisory
Committee meeting; and
(3) Invites the agency to provide a written response to the staff
analysis and third-party comments, specifying a deadline for the
response that is at least two weeks before the Advisory Committee
meeting.
(f) If Department staff fails to provide the agency with the
materials described in paragraph (e)(2) of this section at least 45
days before the Advisory Committee meeting, the agency may request that
the Advisory Committee defer acting on the application at that meeting.
If Department staff's failure to send the materials at least 45 days
before the Advisory Committee meeting is due to the failure of the
agency to submit reports or other information the Secretary requested
by the deadline the Secretary established, the agency forfeits its
right to request a deferral.
(g) Department staff reviews any response to the staff analysis
that the agency submits. If necessary, Department staff prepares an
addendum to the staff analysis and provides the agency with a copy.
(h) Before the Advisory Committee meeting, Department staff
provides the Advisory Committee with the following information:
(1) The agency's application for recognition and supporting
documentation.
(2) The Department staff analysis of the agency.
(3) Any written third-party comments the Department received about
the agency on or before the established deadline.
(4) Any agency response to either the Department staff analysis or
third-party comments.
(5) Any addendum to the Department staff analysis.
(6) Any other information Department staff relied on in developing
its analysis.
(i) At least 30 days before the Advisory Committee meeting, the
Department publishes a notice of the meeting in the Federal Register
inviting interested parties, including those who submitted third-party
comments concerning the agency's compliance with the criteria for
recognition, to make oral presentations before the Advisory Committee.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)
Review by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and
Integrity


Sec. 602.32 What is the role of the Advisory Committee and the senior
Department official in the review of an agency's application?

(a) The Advisory Committee considers an agency's application for
recognition at a public meeting and invites Department staff, the
agency, and other interested parties to make oral presentations at the
meeting. A transcript is made of each Advisory Committee meeting.
(b) When it concludes its review, the Advisory Committee recommends
that the Secretary either approve or deny recognition or that the
Secretary defer a decision on the agency's application for recognition.
(1)(i) The Advisory Committee recommends approval of recognition if
the agency complies with the criteria for recognition listed in subpart
B of this part and if the agency is effective in its performance with
respect to those criteria.
(ii) If the Advisory Committee recommends approval, the Advisory
Committee also recommends a recognition period and a scope of
recognition.
(iii) If the recommended scope or period of recognition is less
than that requested by the agency, the Advisory Committee explains its
reasons for recommending the lesser scope or recognition period.
(2)(i) If the agency fails to comply with the criteria for
recognition in subpart B of this part, or if the agency is not
effective in its performance with respect to those criteria, the
Advisory Committee recommends denial of recognition, unless the
Advisory Committee concludes that a deferral under paragraph (b)(3) of
this section is warranted.
(ii) If the Advisory Committee recommends denial, the Advisory
Committee specifies the reasons for its recommendation, including all
criteria the agency fails to meet and all areas in which the agency
fails to perform effectively.
(3)(i) The Advisory Committee may recommend deferral of a decision
on recognition if it concludes that the agency's deficiencies do not
warrant immediate loss of recognition and if it concludes that the
agency will demonstrate or achieve compliance with the criteria for
recognition and effective performance with respect to those criteria
before the expiration of the deferral period.
(ii) In its deferral recommendation, the Advisory Committee states
the bases for its conclusions, specifies any criteria for recognition
the agency fails to meet, and identifies any areas in which the agency
fails to perform effectively with respect to the criteria.
(iii) The Advisory Committee also recommends a deferral period,
which may not exceed 12 months, either as a single deferral period or
in combination with any expiring deferral period in which similar
deficiencies in compliance or performance were cited by the Secretary.
(c) At the conclusion of its meeting, the Advisory Committee
forwards its recommendations to the Secretary through the senior
Department official.
(d) For any Advisory Committee recommendation not appealed under

[[Page 56625]]

Sec. 602.33, the senior Department official includes with the Advisory
Committee materials forwarded to the Secretary a memorandum containing
the senior Department official's recommendations regarding the actions
proposed by the Advisory Committee.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b and 1145)


Sec. 602.33 How may an agency appeal a recommendation of the Advisory
Committee?

(a) Either the agency or the senior Department official may appeal
the Advisory Committee's recommendation. If a party wishes to appeal,
that party must--
(1) Notify the Secretary and the other party in writing of its
intent to appeal the recommendation no later than 10 days after the
Advisory Committee meeting;
(2) Submit its appeal in writing to the Secretary no later than 30
days after the Advisory Committee meeting; and
(3) Provide the other party with a copy of the appeal at the same
time it submits the appeal to the Secretary.
(b) The non-appealing party may file a written response to the
appeal. If that party wishes to do so, it must--
(1) Submit its response to the Secretary no later than 30 days
after receiving its copy of the appeal; and
(2) Provide the appealing party with a copy of its response at the
same time it submits its response to the Secretary.
(c) Neither the agency nor the senior Department official may
include any new evidence in its submission; i.e., evidence it did not
previously submit to the Advisory Committee.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b and 1145) Review and Decision by the
Secretary


Sec. 602.34 What does the Secretary consider when making a recognition
decision?

The Secretary makes the decision regarding recognition of an agency
based on the entire record of the agency's application, including the
following:
(a) The Advisory Committee's recommendation.
(b) The senior Department official's recommendation, if any.
(c) The agency's application and supporting documentation.
(d) The Department staff analysis of the agency.
(e) All written third-party comments forwarded by Department staff
to the Advisory Committee for consideration at the meeting.
(f) Any agency response to the Department staff analysis and third-
party comments.
(g) Any addendum to the Department staff analysis.
(h) All oral presentations at the Advisory Committee meeting.
(i) Any materials submitted by the parties, within the established
timeframes, in an appeal taken in accordance with Sec. 602.33.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.35 What information does the Secretary's recognition decision
include?

(a) The Secretary notifies the agency in writing of the Secretary's
decision regarding the agency's application for recognition.
(b) The Secretary either approves or denies recognition or defers a
decision on the agency's application for recognition.
(1)(i) The Secretary approves recognition if the agency complies
with the criteria for recognition listed in subpart B of this part and
if the agency is effective in its performance with respect to those
criteria.
(ii) If the Secretary approves recognition, the Secretary's
recognition decision defines the scope of recognition and the
recognition period.
(iii) If the scope or period of recognition is less than that
requested by the agency, the Secretary explains the reasons for
approving a lesser scope or recognition period.
(2)(i) If the agency fails to comply with the criteria for
recognition in subpart B of this part, or if the agency is not
effective in its performance with respect to those criteria, the
Secretary denies recognition, unless the Secretary concludes that a
deferral under paragraph (b)(3) of this section is warranted.
(ii) If the Secretary denies recognition, the Secretary specifies
the reasons for this decision, including all criteria the agency fails
to meet and all areas in which the agency fails to perform effectively.
(3)(i) The Secretary may defer a decision on recognition if the
Secretary concludes that the agency's deficiencies do not warrant
immediate loss of recognition and if the Secretary concludes that the
agency will demonstrate or achieve compliance with the criteria for
recognition and effective performance with respect to those criteria
before the expiration of the deferral period.
(ii) In the deferral decision, the Secretary states the bases for
the Secretary's conclusions, specifies any criteria for recognition the
agency fails to meet, and identifies any areas in which the agency
fails to perform effectively with respect to the criteria.
(iii) The Secretary also establishes a deferral period, which
begins on the date of the Secretary's decision.
(iv) The deferral period may not exceed 12 months, either as a
single deferral period or in combination with any expiring deferral
period in which similar deficiencies in compliance or performance were
cited by the Secretary, except that the Secretary may grant an
extension of an expiring deferral period at the request of the agency
for good cause shown.
(c) The recognition period may not exceed five years.
(d) If the Secretary does not reach a final decision to approve or
deny an agency's application for continued recognition before the
expiration of its recognition period, the Secretary automatically
extends the recognition period until the final decision is reached.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.36 May an agency appeal the Secretary's final recognition
decision?

An agency may appeal the Secretary's decision under this part in
the Federal courts as a final decision in accordance with applicable
Federal law.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)

Subpart D--Limitation, Suspension, or Termination of Recognition
Limitation, Suspension, and Termination Procedures


Sec. 602.40 How may the Secretary limit, suspend, or terminate an
agency's recognition?

(a) If the Secretary determines, after notice and an opportunity
for a hearing, that a recognized agency does not comply with the
criteria for recognition in subpart B of this part or that the agency
is not effective in its performance with respect to those criteria, the
Secretary--
(1) Limits, suspends, or terminates the agency's recognition; or
(2) Requires the agency to take appropriate action to bring itself
into compliance with the criteria and achieve effectiveness within a
timeframe that may not exceed 12 months.
(b) If, at the conclusion of the timeframe specified in paragraph
(a)(2) of this section, the Secretary determines, after notice and an
opportunity for a hearing, that the agency has failed to bring itself
into compliance or has failed to achieve effectiveness, the Secretary
limits, suspends, or terminates recognition, unless the Secretary
extends the timeframe, on request by the agency for good cause shown.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b).

[[Page 56626]]

Sec. 602.41 What are the notice procedures?

(a) Department staff initiates an action to limit, suspend, or
terminate an agency's recognition by notifying the agency in writing of
the Secretary's intent to limit, suspend, or terminate recognition. The
notice--
(1) Describes the specific action the Secretary seeks to take
against the agency and the reasons for that action, including the
criteria with which the agency has failed to comply;
(2) Specifies the effective date of the action; and
(3) Informs the agency of its right to respond to the notice and
request a hearing.
(b) Department staff may send the notice described in paragraph (a)
of this section at any time the staff concludes that the agency fails
to comply with the criteria for recognition in subpart B of this part
or is not effective in its performance with respect to those criteria.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.42 What are the response and hearing procedures?

(a) If the agency wishes either to respond to the notice or request
a hearing, or both, it must do so in writing no later than 30 days
after it receives the notice of the Secretary's intent to limit,
suspend, or terminate recognition.
(1) The agency's submission must identify the issues and facts in
dispute and the agency's position on them.
(2) If neither a response nor a request for a hearing is filed by
the deadline, the notice of intent becomes a final decision by the
Secretary.
(b)(1) After receiving the agency's response and hearing request,
if any, the Secretary chooses a subcommittee composed of five members
of the Advisory Committee to adjudicate the matter and notifies the
agency of the subcommittee's membership.
(2) The agency may challenge membership of the subcommittee on
grounds of conflict of interest on the part of one or more members and,
if the agency's challenge is successful, the Secretary will replace the
member or members challenged.
(c) After the subcommittee has been selected, Department staff
sends the members of the subcommittee copies of the notice to limit,
suspend, or terminate recognition, along with the agency's response, if
any.
(d)(1) If a hearing is requested, it is held in Washington, DC, at
a date and time set by Department staff.
(2) A transcript is made of the hearing.
(3) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, the
subcommittee allows Department staff, the agency, and any interested
party to make an oral or written presentation, which may include the
introduction of written and oral evidence.
(e) On agreement by Department staff and the agency, the
subcommittee review may be based solely on the written materials
submitted.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.43 How is a decision on limitation, suspension, or
termination of recognition reached?

(a) After consideration of the notice of intent to limit, suspend,
or terminate recognition, the agency's response, if any, and all
submissions and presentations made at the hearing, if any, the
subcommittee issues a written opinion and sends it to the Secretary,
with copies to the agency and the senior Department official. The
opinion includes--
(1) Findings of fact, based on consideration of all the evidence,
presentations, and submissions before the subcommittee;
(2) A recommendation as to whether a limitation, suspension, or
termination of the agency's recognition is warranted; and
(3) The reasons supporting the subcommittee's recommendation.
(b) Unless the subcommittee's recommendation is appealed under
Sec. 602.44, the Secretary issues a final decision on whether to limit,
suspend, or terminate the agency's recognition. The Secretary bases the
decision on consideration of the full record before the subcommittee
and the subcommittee's opinion.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)

Appeal Rights and Procedures


Sec. 602.44 How may an agency appeal the subcommittee's
recommendation?

(a) Either the agency or the senior Department official may appeal
the subcommittee's recommendation. If a party wishes to appeal, that
party must--
(1) Notify the Secretary and the other party in writing of its
intent to appeal the recommendation no later than 10 days after receipt
of the recommendation;
(2) Submit its appeal to the Secretary in writing no later than 30
days after receipt of the recommendation; and
(3) Provide the other party with a copy of the appeal at the same
time it submits the appeal to the Secretary.
(b) The non-appealing party may file a written response to the
appeal. If that party wishes to do so, it must--
(1) Submit its response to the Secretary no later than 30 days
after receiving its copy of the appeal; and
(2) Provide the appealing party with a copy of its response at the
same time it submits its response to the Secretary.
(c) Neither the agency nor the senior Department official may
include any new evidence in its submission, i.e., evidence it did not
previously submit to the subcommittee.
(d) If the subcommittee's recommendation is appealed, the Secretary
renders a final decision after taking into account that recommendation
and the parties' written submissions on appeal, as well as the entire
record before the subcommittee and the subcommittee's opinion.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)


Sec. 602.45 May an agency appeal the Secretary's final decision to
limit, suspend, or terminate its recognition?

An agency may appeal the Secretary's final decision limiting,
suspending, or terminating its recognition to the Federal courts as a
final decision in accordance with applicable Federal law.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)

Subpart E--Department Responsibilities


Sec. 602.50 What information does the Department share with a
recognized agency about its accredited institutions and programs?

(a) If the Department takes an action against an institution or
program accredited by the agency, it notifies the agency no later than
10 days after taking that action.
(b) If another Federal agency or a State agency notifies the
Department that it has taken an action against an institution or
program accredited by the agency, the Department notifies the agency as
soon as possible but no later than 10 days after receiving the written
notice from the other Government agency.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)
[FR Doc. 99-27313 Filed 10-19-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P




Last Modified: 10/24/1999