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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…
- A Response to "State Authorization Will Not Cause the Sky to Fall"
July 1, 2011
A guest post yesterday to the New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog took non-profit colleges and universities severely to task for opposing the U.S. Department of Education…
- At the State Authorization "Deadline": What Should Institutions Do?
June 29, 2011
In a post yesterday , I noted that progress has been made on federal legislation to repeal regulations set to take effect this Friday on state authorization requirements for online/distance l…
- As July 1 Approaches, House Bill to Block State Authorization, Credit Hour Definition Passes Committee
June 28, 2011
With the July 1 deadline for U.S. Department of Education (ED) implementation of new Higher Education Act Title IV (student financial assistance) regulations on program integrity looming, the …
- States Provide More Information on Authorization Processes
June 10, 2011
WCET posted a new entry yesterday to its blog on state authorization requirements for online/distance learning providers. The blog post reviews the latest efforts of a large number of states to …
- 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…
- WCET Blog on State Authorization
May 25, 2011
In the time-honored tradition of blogging about a blog, I wanted to extend a thread distributed by my EDUCAUSE colleague, Steve Worona, via email and listserv. In his message, Steve highlighted …
- ACE Federal Policy Update Addresses State Authorization
May 18, 2011
The American Council on Education held a federal policy update webinar yesterday, which included a discussion of the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) pending regulations on state a…
- ED Blinks, with a Warning
April 21, 2011
On Wednesday, April 20, the Department of Education issued a new "Dear Colleague" letter acknowledging "complaints from some institutions, or their representatives, that they a…
- Two new State Authorization resources
March 28, 2011
Just released: A blog by the estimable Russ Poulin of WCET expanding on his "Train Wreck" comment and soliciting impact statements. A good summary of where we ar…