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Wyoming Catholic College has decided to opt out of Title IV—specifically, federal student aid and loan programs. (See the press release here).

President Kevin Roberts’ video explanation is a simple and eloquent expression of the bind religious colleges face in today’s regulatory climate. The problem is that participating in any federal program exposes an institution to obedience to other federal programs and their guidelines.

As Roberts puts it:

The crux of the issue is that while the financial benefits of these [loan and aid] programs are clear, the increasingly burdensome regulatory requirements are troubling for faith-based institutions. With increasing frequency, administrative interpretations of federal laws, namely, Title IX, are being used to complicate, if not contravene the teaching of the church on sexuality and marriage.

It’s becoming abundantly clear that religious institutions can’t finesse their way into receiving federal benefits while avoiding federal demands. To get an idea of the ceaseless tumble of compliance communications that issue from the office, take a look at this chronicle of “Dear Colleague Letters” from the U.S. Department of Education posted at its website.

College administrators that I have spoken with over the years assure me that the federal burdens only keep on rising. And I am quite sure that if I were to mention to one of these administrators this recent decision by Wyoming Catholic, he would sigh and mutter, “Those lucky folks.”

Mark Bauerlein is senior editor of First Things.



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