Rulemaking Committee Will Impact Federal Student Aid Programs at Nation’s Colleges and Universities
Allen University President Ernest McNealey has been named to a national committee whose members will explore wide-ranging regulations that affect colleges and universities in the nation. The U.S. Department of Education appointed McNealey to serve on the Accreditation and Innovation Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. While there are a number of matters the rulemaking committee will address, the federal agency has tasked the committee on which McNealey will serve to propose or revise regulations that would address issues relating to accreditation.
McNealey is among 26 negotiators who were selected to participate in the process. McNealey will serve as a primary negotiator representing institutions of higher education eligible to receive Title IV funding, the program which regulates and administers federal financial aid to colleges and universities. Many of these institutions are minority-serving, including Historically Black colleges and universities, such as Allen, Hispanic-serving universities, American Indian Tribally Controlled colleges and others with a substantial enrollment of needy students.
According to McNealey, his role on the committee is significant because the deregulated policies could have serious implications not just to minority-serving institutions but to the students and families who depend heavily on federal financial aid to pay for college.
Institutions who wish to obtain and maintain eligibility for federal funds must sustain its accrediting status with the agencies that evaluate and recognize the quality of academic programs at America’s colleges and universities.
The department of Education awards approximately $120 billion every year in grants, work-study funds and low-interest loans to help students pay for college. At Allen, over 90 percent of its students are Pell-eligible, meaning they rely on federal dollars to fund their education.
“Certainly, this is extremely important for institutions who serve students with needs. A university’s accreditation status would have bearing on a student’s ability to begin school or complete a program to earn his or her degree. In serious cases, a college or university’s standing with its accrediting agency could determine whether it shuts its doors,” said McNealey.
“Ultimately, our efforts will protect the very students we serve. Our priority is to ensure the standards and policies that accreditors use to measure effectiveness are clear, fair and readily implemented by all the institutions impacted,” said McNealey.
McNealey has vast experience in discipline-specific accreditation activities, including serving six years on the commission for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, of which Allen is a member institution.
McNealey views his appointment to the national committee as a means of raising awareness of the historical Christian liberal arts university. In recent years, Allen has experienced a resurgence with the expansion of academic programs and improved finances.
“Having been selected elevates Allen into an important place and during an important time. This is a critical moment in the higher education landscape as the federal government seeks to simplify issues of accreditation through policies and regulations,” McNealey said.
The committee will convene over a series of three meetings that will be held in Washington, D.C. The first session will take place Jan 14- 16. Sessions two and three will be held Feb. 19-22 and March 25-28, respectively.