State Higher Education Officials Get Seat on Federal Rules Panel

  • Absence of state attorneys general seen hurting consumers
  • Department crafting new regulations on college standards

States will have a say on potential language on a wide-ranging higher education regulation after a group of students, colleges and other higher education representatives convened by the Education Department agreed to create a position for them on a rulemaking committee.

Left without a seat at that table: state attorneys general.

States, along with college accrediting agencies and the Education Department, oversee colleges under the higher education law (Public Law 110-315) Representatives of students, different types of colleges, financial aid officers, employers and veterans sit on the 15-member committee that’s discussing regulations, including when states need to approve colleges that offer student services.

Members of the committee, should they reach agreement, will set the language for the final rule.

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Students pass under the arches at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

The committee, created by the Education Department, voted Wednesday to allow David Tandberg, vice president for policy research and strategic initiatives with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, to join the group. But a vote on having a representative from the New York attorney general’s office as an alternate member failed after the Education Department representative voted against it.

The panel’s Education Department representative, Annmarie Weisman, said the department had initially excluded state attorneys general from the committee because it didn’t feel attorneys general had a strong role to play in the potential regulations compared with other groups overseeing colleges.


The exclusion of the attorneys general means the committee has few voices to represent the interests of the consumers, said Robyn Smith, a senior attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

“There are very few consumer protection experts or advocates on this panel,” she said during the discussion. “It’s incredibly unbalanced in favor of institutional interests.”

The committee agreed to add a representative for the New York attorney general’s office to a subcommittee focused on online education. Subcommittee members will make recommendations to the main committee, but can’t vote on the proposals.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Wilkins in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at; Robin Meszoly at; Jonathan Nicholson at