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U.S. Senate bill introduced on state authorization repeal

In a previous post, I noted the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal recently implemented U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulations establishing a federal definition of the credit hour and extending state authorization requirements for federal financial aid programs to directly cover online learning programs. At the time, action on the legislation by the U.S. Senate was unclear, but a companion bill—S. 1297—has now been introduced in the Senate which essentially mirrors the original House legislation, H.R. 2117.

It is still unclear whether the bill will gain traction in the Senate such that it could receive a vote of the full body, much less pass it. (At this time, the Senate bill has 15 co-sponsors, but only one of whom is a Democrat in the Democratically controlled chamber.) However, the introduction of S. 1297 in the Senate at least makes it possible that a law repealing the ED state authorization regulations could ultimately pass Congress during this session and take effect. That, in turn, would relieve the online/distance learning programs of colleges and universities of concerns about losing federal financial aid eligibility for such programs due to a lack of state authorization for them; however, concerns about complying with relevant state laws (and state penalties for failing to do so) would remain.