News & Events

LU team engaged in higher education policy changes at the federal level

February 21, 2018

Since early 2017, Liberty University administrators have had an ongoing conversation with the U.S. Department of Education about federal regulations that affect colleges and universities nationwide. The team developed a list of 77 policy areas and reached out to various federal officials.

“In the past year, we have provided input to President Trump, Vice President Pence, White House adviser Jared Kushner, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos,” said Dr. Rob Ritz, Liberty’s executive vice president of finance. “It used to be a top-down operation. Now, the Department of Education is seeking input from the nation’s colleges and universities, which Liberty is happy to provide.”

Recommendations include eliminating regulations that have been increasingly costly and burdensome to institutions, such as financial aid compliance. Over the past 10 years, the number of Liberty employees dedicated to that area alone has grown from seven to about 50 — mostly due to the increasing number of federal regulations.

“The regulations are just pounding higher education,” Ritz said.

Other changes being discussed include expansion of Federal Pell Grants for students, improved benefits for military students, and stronger protection of Liberty’s mission as a Christian university.

“We have seen clearly that federal officials from the new administration are listening and are taking action on high-priority policy initiatives important to Liberty and shared by many other colleges and universities,” said Liberty President Jerry Falwell.

Most recently, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) has been working on details related to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act of 1965. These efforts have the potential to simplify and enhance the federal financial aid system. University officials have also noticed major improvement in the responsiveness of reports submitted to the Department of Education. In the past, a response could take four to 11 months. Now, it is averaging just two weeks, which is helping Liberty to update and propose new academic programs, according to Dr. Ritz.

“We are grateful to Congressional leaders like Rep. Virginia Foxx and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who are making specific progress on policies and gaining momentum,” Ritz said.

Along with Falwell and Ritz (pictured here), Liberty’s team includes Ashley Reich (also pictured) and Rachel Myers from the Financial Aid Compliance Department; David Corry, general counsel; former Congressman Robert Hurt, executive director of the Center for Law & Government; and Kenneth Craig, director of Government Relations.

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