MHEC News March 2024

We’ve continued to enjoy and learn so much during our annual visits to capitols in the Midwest. These visits are an opportunity to learn about the pressing issues leaders in our region care about and for us to give an update on MHEC’s work as well.

Many of you in states and at institutions in our region have reached out to us regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s 2023-24 negotiated rulemaking and its impact on distance education. We have been closely following these developments along with the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and our sister compacts. Because the committee did not reach a consensus, the Department can now propose and ultimately approve their own language, although the proposed regulatory changes will still be subject to public comment. The earliest that the changes will take effect is July 2025. We are working on the development of a Midwestern response. For more information, please see NC-SARA's website (Call to Action page) for the latest status updates on the process.

Another item that we’ve heard concerns about that has been dominating the headlines lately is the challenges surrounding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). MHEC continues to follow the implementation closely and looks forward to convening stakeholders from across the region this June for the 2024 Midwest FAFSA Summit. The focus of the summit will be about raising FAFSA completion rates across the Midwest in order to achieve increased rates of postsecondary and career success for all students.

Please see below other highlights from this month's news:

Policy & Research: College Graduates Less Likely to be Unemployed Across Midwest
Convenings: Get Certified by Creative Commons; Continuing Enrollments in Professional Licensure Programs after July 1; Technologies Community Conference Recap
Commissioner News: New Appointment in Indiana; State Visits

As always, our compact welcomes your feedback and suggestions. Happy spring!

Susan G. Heegaard, MHEC President


Policy & Research

College Graduates Less Likely to be Unemployed Across Midwest

The latest update to MHEC's Interactive Dashboard shows that unemployment rates in the Midwest in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic were typically lower among adults with at least some postsecondary education. For example, the unemployment rate in 2022 was 0.8 to 2.7 percentage points lower for adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher in Midwestern states, compared to adults with only a high school diploma.

This indicator provides comparisons of the average unemployment rates among adults by educational attainment. The unemployment rate is the average (over a 12-month period) percentage of persons aged 25 and older in the civilian labor force (all people in the civilian noninstitutional population who are employed or seeking employment) who are not employed, available for work (except for temporary illness), and have made specific efforts to find employment. College certificates are included within the “some college/associate degree” category.

MHEC's Interactive Dashboard provides additional ways to visualize this data using bar charts, line graphs, maps, and tables. Selected finance indicators are also available for MHEC states in the report Higher Education in Focus.

Explore the Dashboard

Avg Unemployment Rate by Educational Attainment - 2022
Source. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population 25 years and older, by educational attainment.


Get Certified by Creative Commons
April 23, 2024 | 2:00 p.m. CT

Join MHEC and Jennryn Wetzler of Creative Commons (CC) for the webinar Get Certified by Creative Commons. Creative Commons is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to helping build and sustain a thriving commons of shared knowledge and culture. Learn more about how the certificate program can strengthen people's practical expertise in open licensing, copyright, and recommended practices in open knowledge and culture movements. Molly Ledermann, Washtenaw Community College Faculty Librarian and Michigan OER Network Steering Committee member, will describe her experience in the CC Certificate course, and how getting CC Certified has helped her work in Open Education. Craig Finlay, OER and STEM Librarian at the University of Nebraska Omaha Libraries will describe his experience in the CC Certificate course and how he subsequently partnered with CC to develop a microcredential course, based on CC Certificate content, called Open Educational Resources for Librarians and Educators.

Continuing Enrollments in Professional Licensure Programs after July 1
April 30, 2024
Part 1: 10:00-10:30 a.m.; Part 2: 10:45-11:45 a.m.

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) will host Higher Education Licensure Pros for a special two-part webinar session Continuing Enrollments in Professional Licensure Programs after July 1 focused on the new Title IV certification procedures regulations that are effective July 1. Part 1: What Leadership Needs to Know is specifically geared for college and university leaders. With so many changes coming from the U.S. Department of Education, it is hard for higher education leaders to keep up. These new regulations significantly expand responsibilities for institutions around professional and occupational licensure programs. As a result, programs will need to limit enrollment in certain states, or revise curricula to meet specific licensure requirements, creating impacts across all institutions. Part 2: Implementation Challenges and Considerations will be specifically geared for college and university staff responsible for implementation. These significantly expanded responsibilities for institutions around professional and occupational licensure programs create many new compliance challenges, such as updating a student location policy, creating a written attestation process, and developing a research and curriculum comparison structure for determining if programs meet educational requirements.

MHEC's 2024 Annual Technologies Community Conference Brings Together Higher Ed Leaders to Discuss the Human Side of Technology

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) recently held its 2024 Annual Technologies Community Conference in Chicago at the Big Ten Conference Center, bringing together higher education leaders from across the region to explore the critical intersection of technology and human interaction in today's educational landscape. The two-day event, humanITy: Empowering Innovation Together. featured engaging speakers, collaborative discussions, and valuable networking opportunities. Attendees participated in thought-provoking discussions on engaging stakeholders, aligning decision-makers, and putting themselves in the shoes of faculty and students to better understand their perspectives. The intimate setting fostered a collaborative atmosphere, allowing attendees to share ideas, challenges, and solutions with peers who face similar issues in their own institutions and states, emphasizing the importance of relationships and communication in successfully implementing and leveraging technology in higher education. For more information on the Technologies Community, contact Deb Kidwell, director of technology initiatives.

Commissioner News

New Appointments


Spencer Deery
State Senator; Majority Member, Education and Career Development Committee
Term: 2/23/2024 to 6/30/2025

State Visits

MHEC Visits Five States and Sets Dates for Remaining States

MHEC state visits with state higher education, legislative, and executive branch leadership continue with North Dakota on April 10, Ohio on April 24, Michigan on May 8-9, and Wisconsin on May 14-15. Commissioners and leaders in member states with Susan Heegaard, president, and Rob Trembath, chief operating officer and general counsel, along with additional MHEC staff. Visits were completed in Illinois on February 20-21; Indiana on February 26, Iowa on February 27-28, Missouri on March 4-6, and Nebraska on March 12-13.

2024 State Visit - IL

2024 State Visit - Illinois
ILLINOIS VISIT Front row (L to R) – Susan Heegaard, President, MHEC; Samra Asghedom, Strategic and Executive Initiatives Manager, MHEC; Jaimee Ray, Senior Associate Director Legislative Affairs, Illinois Board of Higher Education. Middle Row (L to R) – Jonathan McNicholes, Stakeholder Engagement and Convening Assistant, MHEC; IL Rep. Katie Stuart, Brian Durham, Executive Director, Illinois Community College Board. Back Row (L to R): Sen. Mike Halpin and MHEC Commissioner; Maureen Banks, Board Member, ICCB; Rob Trembath, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, MHEC; Aaron Carter, AVP of Procurement Services, University of Illinois System; Matt Berry, Chief of Staff, ICCB.

2024 State Visit - IA

2024 State Visit - Iowa
IOWA VISIT (L to R): Rep. Tracy Ehlert, Ranking Member of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee; Rep. Sharon Steckman, Ranking Member of the Education Committee and a MHEC Commissioner; Sen. Cindy Winckler, Ranking Member of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee and a MHEC Commissioner Alternate; Susan Heegaard, President, MHEC; Rob Trembath, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, MHEC; David Ford, Incoming Executive Director/Bureau Chief of Iowa College Aid; Timothy Fitzgibbon, MHEC Commissioner Alternate (governor's designee); Rep. Jacob Bossman, Member of the Appropriations Committee and a MHEC Commissioner; Greta Rouse, President Pro Tem, Iowa Board of Regents and a MHEC Commissioner; Rep. Gary Mohr, Chair of the Appropriations Committee; and Rep. Bob Henderson, Vice Chair of the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

2024 State Visit - MO

2024 State Visit - Missouri
MISSOURI VISIT MHEC President Susan Heegaard presents to the Missouri State Board of Education and the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

2024 State Visit - NE

2024 State Visit - Nebraska
NEBRASKA VISIT Left Side (Front to Back) – Sen. Lynne Walz, MHEC Commissioner; Courtney Wittstruck, Executive Director, Nebraska Community College Association); Mike Baumgartner, Executive Director, Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education and MHEC Commissioner Alternate; Grant Latimer, Policy Advisor for Office of Gov. Jim Pillen and MHEC Commissioner; Doug Carlson, Associate Vice President for University Services, University of Nebraska System. Right Side (Front to Back) – Sen. John Cavanaugh and MHEC Commissioner; Sen. Dave Murman, Chair, Education Committee; Susan Heegaard, President, MHEC; Samra Asghedom, Strategic and Executive Initiatives Manager, MHEC; and Deborah Frison Member, Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, NE Deputy Commissioner for Education, and MHEC Commissioner.

Team Updates

Connect with MHEC Staff at Spring Conferences

Please be sure to connect with MHEC staff this spring at a number of conferences.

  • Nathan Sorensen, director of government contracts, will attend the National Association of Educational Procurement Educational Procurement Innovation Conference, March 17-20;
  • Jenny Parks,vice president, will attend the Southern Regional Education Board's OER Summit, April 3-5;
  • Ms. Parks; Dr. Beth Ellie, associate director of policy initiatives; Sara Appel, director of M-SARA; and Jonathan McNicholes, stakeholder engagement and convening assistant manager; will attend the Higher Learning Commission Conference, April 13-16;
  • Dr. Ellie will attend the Spring 2024 Pathways to Prosperity National Institute a Jobs for the Future initiative reimagining how to prepare young people for the future of work, April 9-10;
  • Mr. Sorensen will attend the SAS Innovate 2024 Conference, April 16-19; and
  • Deb Kidwell, director of technology initiatives, will attend the CUPA-HR Conference, April 21-23.

Articles and Resources of Interest

Short-Term Funding Bill Would Rescind SAI Formula Change
NASFAA | February 29, 2024

Here are 9 ways higher education can ensure rural America's long-term vitality
University Business | February 29, 2024

FAFSA Simplification Guidebook and FAQ
State Higher Education Executive Officers Association | February 26, 2024

How do state appropriations impact graduation rates among underrepresented students?
Higher Ed Dive | February 26, 2024 (MHEC research noted)