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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
- State Authorization Fallout Continues: New Natl. Commission on Distance Ed. Reg.
May 25, 2012
The repercussions of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulations extending state authorization requirements to online/distance learning continue with this week’s launch by the Associatio…
- State Authorization in a Post-Appeals Court World
July 2, 2012
Since a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling vacating the U.S. Department of Education’s regulation on state authorization in relation to distance learning, views on what that …
- State Authorization Regulation for Distance Education Among Topics Discussed at House Hearing
March 11, 2011
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on March 11th on "Education Regulations: Federal Overreach into Academic Affairs" that addressed concerns related t…
- State Authorization Regulations Overturned
July 13, 2011
As reported by a number of outlets (see today’s Inside Higher Education article for example), a federal district court overturned the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) recently…
- State reciprocity agreements as a path to solve state authorization
October 14, 2011
Today's Inside Higher Ed contains an article discussing the development of state reciprocity agreements as a likely path toward resolving the difficulties state authorization processes …
- State U Online
April 23, 2013
Author Rachel Fishman, examines the most common challenges to implementing successful distance-education programs, including cost, quality, and faculty buy-in. Fishman decribes 5 steps to success…
- 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 …
- The E-Learning Policy Environment (Updated 02/14/13)
February 12, 2013
I presented a session entitled "The E-Learning Policy Environment" this January at the EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference (MARC) and just last week at the EDUCAUSE Learning…
- Tracking SARA: An Update on the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement
November 14, 2012
The federal regulation requiring institutions to get local approval (if needed) when serving students in other states is on hold but might return. Meanwhile, the states still expect instituti…
- 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…