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SEC. 493B. (20 U.S.C. 1098d) PROCEDURES FOR CANCELLATIONS AND

DEFERMENTS FOR ELIGIBLE DISABLED VETERANS. The Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shall develop and implement a procedure to permit Department of Veterans Affairs physicians to provide the certifications and affidavits needed to enable disabled veterans enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system to document such veterans' eligibility for deferments or cancellations of student loans made, insured, or guaranteed under this title. Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, the Secretary and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs jointly shall report to Congress on the progress made in developing and implementing the procedure.

PART H–PROGRAM INTEGRITY

Subpart 1-State Role

SEC. 495. (20 U.S.C. 1099a) STATE RESPONSIBILITIES.

(a) STATE RESPONSIBILITIES.—As part of the integrity program authorized by this part, each State, through one State agency or several State agencies selected by the State, shall

(1) furnish the Secretary, upon request, information with respect to the process for licensing or other authorization for institutions of higher education to operate within the State;

(2) notify the Secretary promptly whenever the State revokes a license or other authority to operate an institution of higher education; and

(3) notify the Secretary promptly whenever the State has credible evidence that an institution of higher education within the State

(A) has committed fraud in the administration of the student assistance programs authorized by this title; or

(B) has substantially violated a provision of this title. (b) INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY.-Each institution of higher education shall provide evidence to the Secretary that the institution has authority to operate within a State at the time the institution is certified under subpart 3.

Subpart 2-Accrediting Agency Recognition

SEC. 496. [20 U.S.C. 1099b) RECOGNITION OF ACCREDITING AGENCY

OR ASSOCIATION. (a) CRITERIA REQUIRED.—No accrediting agency or association may be determined by the Secretary to be a reliable authority as to the quality of education or training offered for the purposes of this Act or for other Federal purposes, unless the agency or association meets criteria established by the Secretary pursuant to this section. The Secretary shall, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, establish criteria for such determinations. Such criteria shall include an appropriate measure or measures of student achievement. Such criteria shall require that

(1) the accrediting agency or association shall be a State, regional, or national agency or association and shall demonstrate the ability and the experience to operate as an accrediting agency or association within the State, region, or nationally, as appropriate; (2) such agency or association

(A)(i) for the purpose of participation in programs under this Act, has a voluntary membership of institutions of higher education and has as a principal purpose the accrediting of institutions of higher education; or

(ii) for the purpose of participation in other programs administered by the Department of Education or other Federal agencies, has a voluntary membership and has as its principal purpose the accrediting of institutions of higher education or programs;

(B) is a State agency approved by the Secretary for the purpose described in subparagraph (A); or

(C) is an agency or association that, for the purpose of determining eligibility for student assistance under this title, conducts accreditation through (i) a voluntary membership organization of individuals participating in a profession, or (ii) an agency or association which has as its principal purpose the accreditation of programs within institutions, which institutions are accredited by another agency or association recognized by the Secretary;

(3) if such agency or association is an agency or association described in

(A) subparagraph (A)(i) of paragraph (2), then such agency or association is separate and independent, both administratively and financially of any related, associated, or affiliated trade association or membership organization;

(B) subparagraph (B) of paragraph (2), then such agency or association has been recognized by the Secretary on or before October 1, 1991; or

(C) subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) and such agency or association has been recognized by the Secretary on or before October 1, 1991, then the Secretary may waive the requirement that such agency or association is separate and independent, both administratively and financially of any related, associated, or affiliated trade association or membership organization upon a demonstration that the existing relationship has not served to compromise the independence of its accreditation process;

(4) such agency or association consistently applies and enforces standards that ensure that the courses or programs of instruction, training, or study offered by the institution of higher education, including distance education courses or programs, are of sufficient quality to achieve, for the duration of the accreditation period, the stated objective for which the courses or the programs are offered;

(5) the standards for accreditation of the agency or association assess the institution's

(A) success with respect to student achievement in relation to the institution's mission, including, as appro

priate, consideration of course completion, State licensing
examinations, and job placement rates;

(B) curricula;
(C) faculty;
(D) facilities, equipment, and supplies;

(E) fiscal and administrative capacity as appropriate to the specified scale of operations;

(F) student support services;

(G) recruiting and admissions practices, academic calendars, catalogs, publications, grading and advertising;

(H) measures of program length and the objectives of the degrees or credentials offered;

(I) record of student complaints received by, or available to, the agency or association; and

(J) record of compliance with its program responsibilities under title IV of this 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 such other information as the Secretary

may provide to the agency or association; except that subparagraphs (A), (H), and (J) shall not apply to agencies or associations described in paragraph (2)(A)(ii) of this subsection;

(6) such agency or association shall apply procedures throughout the accrediting process, including evaluation and withdrawal proceedings, that comply with due process, including

(A) adequate specification of requirements and deficiencies at the institution of higher education or program being examined;

(B) notice of an opportunity for a hearing by any such institution;

(C) the right to appeal any adverse action against any such institution; and

(D) the right to representation by counsel for any such institution;

(7) such agency or association shall notify the Secretary and the appropriate State licensing or authorizing agency within 30 days of the accreditation of an institution or any final denial, withdrawal, suspension, or termination of accreditation or placement on probation of an institution, together with any other adverse action taken with respect to an institution; and

(8) such agency or association shall make available to the public, upon request, and to the Secretary, and the State licensing or authorizing agency a summary of any review resulting in a final accrediting decision involving denial, termination, or suspension of accreditation, together with the comments of the affected institution.

(b) SEPARATE AND INDEPENDENT DEFINED.-For the purpose of subsection (a)(3), the term "separate and independent” means that

(1) the members of the postsecondary education governing body of the accrediting agency or association are not elected or selected by the board or chief executive officer of any related, associated, or affiliated trade association or membership organization;

(2) among the membership of the board of the accrediting agency or association there shall be one public member (who is not a member of any related trade or membership organization) for each six members of the board, with a minimum of one such public member, and guidelines are established for such members to avoid conflicts of interest;

(3) dues to the accrediting agency or association are paid separately from any dues paid to any related, associated, or affiliated trade association or membership organization; and

(4) the budget of the accrediting agency or association is developed and determined by the accrediting agency or association without review or resort to consultation with any other entity or organization.

(c) OPERATING PROCEDURES REQUIRED.—No accrediting agency or association may be recognized by the Secretary as a reliable authority as to the quality of education or training offered by an institution seeking to participate in the programs authorized under this title, unless the agency or association

(1) performs, at regularly established intervals, on-site inspections and reviews of institutions of higher education (which may include unannounced site visits) with particular focus on educational quality and program effectiveness, and ensures that accreditation team members are well-trained and knowledgeable with respect to their responsibilities;

(2) requires that any institution of higher education subject to its jurisdiction which plans to establish a branch campus submit a business plan, including projected revenues and expenditures, prior to opening the branch campus;

(3) agrees to conduct, as soon as practicable, but within a period of not more than 6 months of the establishment of a new branch campus or a change of ownership of an institution of higher education, an on-site visit of that branch campus or of the institution after a change of ownership;

(4) requires that teach-out agreements among institutions are subject to approval by the accrediting agency or association consistent with standards promulgated by such agency or association:

(5) maintains and makes publicly available written materials regarding standards and procedures for accreditation, appeal procedures, and the accreditation status of each institution subject to its jurisdiction; and

(6) discloses publicly whenever an institution of higher education subject to its jurisdiction is being considered for accreditation or reaccreditation.

(d) LENGTH OF RECOGNITION.—No accrediting agency or association may be recognized by the Secretary for the purpose of this Act for a period of more than 5 years.

(e) INITIAL ARBITRATION RULE.—The Secretary may not recognize the accreditation of any institution of higher education unless the institution of higher education agrees to submit any dispute in

volving the final denial, withdrawal, or termination of accreditation to initial arbitration prior to any other legal action.

(f) JURISDICTION.-Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any civil action brought by an institution of higher education seeking accreditation from, or accredited by, an accrediting agency or association recognized by the Secretary for the purpose of this title and involving the denial, withdrawal, or termination of accreditation of the institution of higher education, shall be brought in the appropriate United States district court.

(g) LIMITATION ON SCOPE OF CRITERIA.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed to permit the Secretary to establish criteria for accrediting agencies or associations that are not required by this section. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit or limit any accrediting agency or association from adopting additional standards not provided for in this section.

(h) CHANGE OF ACCREDITING AGENCY.—The Secretary shall not recognize the accreditation of any otherwise eligible institution of higher education if the institution of higher education is in the process of changing its accrediting agency or association, unless the eligible institution submits to the Secretary all materials relating to the prior accreditation, including materials demonstrating reasonable cause for changing the accrediting agency or association.

(i) DUAL ACCREDITATION RULE.—The Secretary shall not recognize the accreditation of any otherwise eligible institution of higher education if the institution of higher education is accredited, as an institution, by more than one accrediting agency or association, unless the institution submits to each such agency and association and to the Secretary the reasons for accreditation by more than one such agency or association and demonstrates to the Secretary reasonable cause for its accreditation by more than one agency or association. If the institution is accredited, as an institution, by more than one accrediting agency or association, the institution shall designate which agency's accreditation shall be utilized in determining the institution's eligibility for programs under this Act.

(j) IMPACT OF LOSS OF ACCREDITATION.-An institution may not be certified or recertified as an institution of higher education under section 102 and subpart 3 of this part or participate in any of the other programs authorized by this Act if such institution

(1) is not currently accredited by any agency or association recognized by the Secretary;

(2) has had its accreditation withdrawn, revoked, or otherwise terminated for cause during the preceding 24 months, unless such withdrawal, revocation, or termination has been rescinded by the same accrediting agency; or

(3) has withdrawn from accreditation voluntarily under a show cause or suspension order during the preceding 24 months, unless such order has been rescinded by the same accrediting agency.

(k) RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION RULE.—Notwithstanding subsection (i), the Secretary shall allow an institution that has had its accreditation withdrawn, revoked, or otherwise terminated, or has voluntarily withdrawn from an accreditation agency, to remain certified as an institution of higher education under section 102 and subpart 3 of this part for a period sufficient to allow such institution to ob

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