October 31, 2023

The U.S. Department of Education has finalized new regulations that change the process institutions of higher education must use to validate high school diplomas when students apply for Title IV federal student loans and grants.

The changes are purported to target diploma mills, however private school advocates have expressed concern that the regulations are vague and confusing, and could be detrimental to students from private high schools unfamiliar to university financial aid administrators. The new regulations appear to require a college, typically through the financial aid administrator, to understand the nuances in how 50 states oversee private schools and the process by which each state recognizes high school diplomas, which varies widely. This would put financial aid administrators in the position of needing to become experts on each state’s practice, likely causing them to unfairly question diplomas from unfamiliar schools and potentially denying aid to deserving students.

CAPE engaged with the Department and the White House throughout the rulemaking process, and while some minor adjustments were made before the final rule was released, CAPE’s main concerns were not addressed.

It is unclear what effect the new regulations will have, so this is an issue to watch in the coming years.