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Dept. of Ed. Releases Public Comment on Postsecondary Ratings System

February 14, 2014—The Department of Education Feb. 6 released public comments in response to a request for information on the proposed Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS).  The AAMC joined 19 higher education associations in a letter led by the American Council on Education (ACE) and submitted supplemental comments  on the unique aspects of medical education and physician workforce shortages.

Both letters underscore the importance of public input and review through the formal rulemaking process as the Department proceeds with this initiative. ACE also highlights the diversity of higher education institutions’ missions and notes, “Many question whether rating colleges is an appropriate role for the federal government to play, and most believe it is nearly impossible for the federal government to do such a thing with any degree of reliability or validity.”

The AAMC letter expresses support for “the Administration and Department’s goal of ensuring that students receive a cost-effective and high-quality education at all Title IV eligible institutions, foreign and domestic.”  The letter also outlines the unique structure of medical education and identifies high graduating debt, residency training, federal caps on Medicare graduate medical education (GME) funding, and physician specialty differences as marked difficulties for any proposed ratings system.

President Obama first introduced the idea of a ratings system in August 2013 as part of a college affordability agenda, and reiterated the Administration’s commitment in his State of the Union Address [see Washington Highlights, Jan. 31].  The Department is able to establish an information-based ratings system without legislation, but any ties to federal financial aid would require congressional action, likely as part of the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization [see Washington Highlights, Aug. 9, 2013].


Matthew Shick, JD
Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs
Telephone: 202-862-6116


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
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Telephone: 202-903-0806