This vote was on an amendment that would have preserved the ability of students to file a complaint against higher education institutions that do not maintain the integrity of their programs.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) offered the amendment to Republican legislation that would overturn federal standards for colleges and universities that qualify for federal student aid. The federal standards were set by the Department of Education as a way to ensure schools that are eligible for federal student aid are meeting minimum requirements for the integrity of their programs.
Among the regulations scrapped by the Republican bill is a requirement that states maintain a student complaint process. The process would allow students to voice their concerns in an official setting if they felt their school treated them unfairly or did not meet its obligation to provide a quality education. Rep. Grijalva’s amendment would have allowed this regulation to stand.
“The vast majority of institutions work in a student's best interest and will seek to guide students and address concerns when they arise. This amendment ensures that students have a place to air their concerns when that is not the case,” Rep. Grijalva said. “My amendment protects students and taxpayers by ensuring that each state has a process in place to receive and review student complaints and by promoting good practices and addressing abuses.”
Rep. Foxx argued that the amendment as unnecessary because accrediting agencies and many states already have complaint processes in place. The Department of Education regulation would just place an extra, costly burden on states, she said.
“During a time when states, institutions, parents, and students are worried about ways to increase college affordability, I think it would be better for states to put their limited resources towards helping colleges and universities keep their tuitions down rather than adding another layer of state bureaucracy,” she said.
Rep. Grijalva’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 170-247. Voting “yea” were 170 Democrats, including a majority of progressives. Voting “nay” were 236 Republicans and 11 Democrats. As a result, the House defeated an attempt to ensure college students have a way to file a complaint against higher education institutions that do not maintain the integrity of their programs.