Owens Leads Effort to Modernize Higher Education

WASHINGTON — Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee Chairman Burgess Owens (UT-04) introduced the Ensuring Distance Education Act to modernize the Higher Education Act, reflect the evolving landscape of higher education, and better serve America’s students.

The 90/10 rule stipulates that career-education colleges and universities can receive only 90% of their revenue from federal aid, requiring the remaining 10% to come from non-federal sources. However, the existing regulations restrict what qualifies as non-federal revenue. Notably, revenue from distance education programs, including those offered partially online or those that allow students to make up missed coursework via distance education, cannot be counted towards the 10%.

“As the landscape of higher education evolves, it’s imperative that our policies keep pace to meet the needs of today’s students,” said Rep. Owens. “The Ensuring Distance Education Act is a crucial step towards modernizing the Higher Education Act, ensuring that career-education institutions can adapt and provide the flexible learning options that more and more students are requiring. By removing outdated and arbitrary barriers, we can empower America’s colleges and universities to innovate and expand diverse learning options, ultimately enhancing access to quality education for future generations of students.”


  • The 90/10 rule places restrictions on what constitutes non-Federal revenue applicable to the 10%, including the exclusion of distance education programs, even for programs that are only partially online. This limits career-education institutions’ ability to expand distance education offerings in a growing market. 
  • The Ensuring Distance Education Act amends the Higher Education Act, enabling revenue from distance education programs to contribute to the non-Federal portion of the 90/10 rule.
  • This modernization addresses the rising demand for distance education, empowering for-profit institutions to meet this demand effectively.

The full legislative text is available here


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