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Department of Education Seeks to Regulate Distance Education (Again)

On November 20, 2013, the Department of Education announced in the Federal Register its intent to create a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee to prepare proposed regulations to address program integrity and improvement issues for the Title IV Federal Student Aid programs. The announcement cited several issues the “Program Integrity and Improvement Committee” is likely to consider, including “state authorization for programs offered through distance education or correspondence education.” The Committee is expected to provide a report on their recommendations by April 25, after which the Department will publish for public comment the regulations they intend to pursue.

The committee will hold public hearings on February 19-21, 2014, March 26-28, 2014 and April 23-25, 2014 at the U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street NW, Eighth Floor Conference Center, Washington, DC 20006.

In October of 2010, the Department released similar regulations, declaring that if an institution wants to be legally authorized to provide distance education in a state in which the institution is not physically located, it is the responsibility of the institution to meet any and all requirements outlined by the state. The regulation was challenged and vacated in federal courts, not on merit but on procedural grounds, providing a clear avenue for the Department to reissue the regulation.

EDUCUASE, working in conjunction with other higher education associations, expressed concern to the Department and various lawmakers about the 2010 rulemaking.  More information about those efforts and this issue generally is available on our resource page, which you can find here.  Click on the library items tab on that page for more links. More information on the Department’s recent announcement can be found here.