State-level responses to U.S. federal policy on state authorization for higher education
Keywords:state authorization, higher education policy, intermediary organizations, policy implementation, federalism
In the United States, higher education institutions must be authorized as postsecondary education providers – through a process known as state authorization – to be eligible to receive federal student financial aid funds. Through state authorization policies, state governments play a key role in maintaining accountability for higher education. Since 2010, the federal government has issued a series of significant reforms on postsecondary state authorization; yet little is known about how state-level officials implement these policies. The purpose of this multi-case study was to analyze the experiences of five states (California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania) responding to federal policy on postsecondary state authorization. Through semi-structured interviews with 25 officials across the five states and analysis of policy-relevant documents, this study found much consistency in the ways policy actors responded to federal state authorization policies. This study also found that states’ implementation of these policies was challenged by insufficient staff capacity, limited communications with the federal department of education, complexity of federal policies, and high compliance costs. Intermediary organizations and policy actors’ networks played important roles in many aspects of states’ responses to the policies.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Rebecca S. Natow, Vikash Reddy, Victoria Ioannou
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