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ED Blinks, with a Warning

On Wednesday, April 20, the Department of Education issued a new "Dear Colleague" letter acknowledging "complaints from some institutions, or their representatives, that they are encountering challenges in seeking and obtaining State authorization for distance education programs". For this reason and others,

the Department will not initiate any action to establish repayment liabilities or limit student eligibility for distance education activities undertaken before July 1, 2014, so long as the institution is making good faith efforts to identify and obtain necessary State authorizations before that date.

(Boldface not in original letter.) The letter then lists four items that would indicate a good faith effort:

  • Documentation that an institution is developing a distance education management process for tracking students' place of residence when engaged in distance education.
  • Documentation that an institution has contacted a State directly to discuss programs the institution is providing to students in that State to determine whether authorization is needed.
  • An application to a State, even if it is not yet approved.
  • Documentation from a State that an application is pending.

The letter does, however, include this caveat:

The Department will review carefully instances where an institution may not be acting in good faith, such as where documents show an institution knew of a State requirement and willfully refused to comply with it.


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