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The Department of Education published an extensive list of new regulations slated to take effect July 1, 2011. While these regulations are aimed at overseeing federal aid for distance learning, they have campus wide implications including a federal definition of credit hours and new costs in certification. A House hearing on March 11, 2011 raised a number of concerns about the effect on campuses. David Moltz published an excellent article reviewing the hearing and providing more information about the context and details of this issue.
Of current interest to the EDUCAUSE community is the requirement, termed "State Authorization", that campuses offering distance learning obtain certification from each student's home state that the distance-ed program meets that state's requirements. EDUCAUSE believes these regulations are unnecessary and compliance is overly burdensome to higher ed. Untouched, the regulations and their compliance deadline will have adverse effects on distance and hybrid learning programs at a time when demand for them is greater than ever.
What We're Doing About It
EDUCAUSE has joined with over 70 higher education and accrediation associations to urge the government to make changes to these new rules. We have sent joint letters to the Dept. of Education and to leaders on the relevent Congressional committees to reconsider this policy, or at least provide more time and resources for institutions to become compliant. Additionally, we have created this resource page and have added State Authorization as one of our major issues; look for more information and activity coming from EDUCAUSE on this issue in the coming months.
On July 27th, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that confirmed ED will no longer seek to enforce the current federal student aid regulation extending state authorization requirements to distance education, by way of a "Dear Colleague Letter" (DCL) sent to institutions.
- Tracking SARA: An Update on the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, EDUCAUSE Live! Novenmber 14, 2012.
- USDOE Will Not Enforce Its Distance Ed State Authorization Regs, but Questions Remain, WCET blog post.
- Letter from Department of Education.
- Analysis by Russ Poulin (WCET) of Dep. of Education letter.
- Lawsuit filed by Career College Association seeking to delay implementation of regulations.
- Resource page maintained by WCET. This is an excellent, comprehensive site, including a detailed analysis of the regulation and a great deal of additional original material.
- The actual State Authorization regulation from the Department of Education.
- The Web page for WCET's "State Approval 'Starter' List", a document summarizing distance-education requirements in all states. Note: SHEEO (State Higher Education Executive Officers) may soon take over responsibility for updating this resource.
- Aug. 2, 2010 letter from ACE and other higher-ed associations (including EDUCAUSE) to the Department of Education expressing concern about State Authorization and a number of other new regulations.
- March 2, 2011 letter from ACE and others (including EDUCAUSE) focused specifically on the State Authorization issue.
- March 11, 2011 letter from ACE and others (including EDUCAUSE) to Rep. Virginia Foxx asking for Congressional pressure to extend the compliance deadline by one year.
- June 10, 2011 letter from ACE, EDUCAUSE and many others to Rep. Virginia Foxx thanking her for introducing H.R. 2117 to congress, legislation that would repeal the regulation in Section 600.2 creating a federal definition of a credit hour.
Updated November 2012
Library Items on this Topic
EDUCAUSE Library Items for State Authorization
- Helpful Analysis of State Authorization Issue
July 7, 2011
The Chronicle of Higher Education published a thoughtful article on the state authorization issue just before the 4th of July weekend; in case you missed it, the article is available at ht…
- House Bill Repealing State Authorization, Fed. Credit Hour Def. Moving to the Floor
February 22, 2012
The American Council on Education (ACE) announced this morning that H.R. 2117 , the House bill submitted last summer to repeal the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations extending s…
- House Passes State Authorization Repeal Bill
February 28, 2012
On a vote of 303-114, H.R. 2117 , the House bill to repeal the U.S. Department of Education regulations on state authorization of online/distance learning and a federal definition of the cred…
- House to Vote on State Authorization Repeal Today
February 28, 2012
Inside Higher Education reports that the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today on H.R. 2117 , a bill to repeal the U.S. Department of Education's "program…
- Institutions Likely to Opt Out of Online Learning in Some States
August 18, 2011
According to Inside Higher Education , survey results show that the U.S. Department of Education’s recently overturned regulations on state authorization for distance learning would lea…
- Latest News on State Authorization
November 20, 2012
Russ Poulin at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) released a blog post this morning with significant updates on the state of play concerning state authorization. Major …
- Latest State Authorization News from WCET
March 8, 2013
Friend of the blog, Russ Poulin of the WlCHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), recently posted a new blog entry on current and pending developments in state authorization r…
- Legislation to Repeal State Authorization Requirements
June 9, 2011
Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, Chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, introduced a bill, H.R. 2117, that would repeal the U.S. Department of Educ…
- Major Higher Ed. Community Developments on State Authorization
April 23, 2013
The higher education community continues to make significant progress toward addressing the problems of distance education state authorization through the development of a state authorization rec…
- MOOCsâ€”Key Legal and Policy Issues for Colleges and Universities
July 25, 2013
The National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), ACE, and EDUCAUAUSE held a webinar on July 25th, 2013 on the key legal and policy issues regarding massive open online course…