500 Education, Training, Employment & Social Services:Decouple Federal Financing from Accreditation

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


No budget impact is assumed.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

Decouple higher education accreditation from federal student aid.


Lower college tuition & give students more choices: Split college accreditation from fed aid.

Currently, higher education accreditation is a de facto federal enterprise, with federally sanctioned regional and national accrediting agencies being the sole purveyors of accreditation. Student aid can only flow to institutions accredited through the federally approved system. The result has been a system that has created barriers to entry for innovative start-ups by insulating traditional brick-and-mortar colleges and universities from market forces that could reduce costs. The existing accreditation regime has also made it difficult for students to customize their higher education experience to fully reach their earnings and career potential. And because entire institutions are accredited instead of individual courses, accreditation is a poor measure of course quality and a poor indicator of the skills acquired by students.

Decoupling federal financing from accreditation would enable states to determine who can accredit colleges, programs, and individual courses. Allowing federal student aid to follow students under the new state-based accreditation system to any college or course provider that has state approval holds the potential to create a much more nimble and meaningful system of knowledge and skill acquisition, particularly for those who have been underserved, historically, by the traditional college system.

Lower college tuition & give students more choices: Split college accreditation from fed aid.

Contributing Expert

Lindsey Burke researches and writes on federal and state education issues as the Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Burke focuses on two critical areas of education policy: reducing the federal role in education and empowering families with school choice.

See publications by Lindsey Burke

Lindsey BurkeWill Skillman Fellow in Education

Heritage Expert

Brittany Corona is a Research Assistant for Domestic Policy Studies with The Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity

See publications by Brittany Corona

Brittany Corona Research Assistant

Additional Reading