The state authorization regulation requires an institution to be authorized by the state in which it has its main location, or in which it has an additional physical location offering at least half of an educational program.
“Authorization” refers to the legal authority for an institution to operate in a state. A postsecondary institution clearly meets the authorization requirement if it is named in a state charter, statute, or constitution. Other colleges face the ambiguous task of demonstrating that they are authorized by name through “other action issued by an appropriate State agency or State entity.” Although a state may choose to establish additional approval or licensure requirements, it is not required to do so by these regulations.
The regulation also requires a state to have a process to review, and appropriately act on, complaints about an institution. A related portion of the program integrity regulations further requires each institution to “provide its students or prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accreditor and with its State approval or licensing entity and any other relevant State official or agency that would appropriately handle a student’s complaint.” Most institutions have chosen to meet this requirement by posting the information on their websites.
The original regulations also addressed the authorization of distance education programs. This portion of the regulations was struck down in court and is not currently in effect.
Compliance with the state authorization requirements is determined as part of the Department’s recertification, audit, or program review activities conducted by its regional offices. Several private, nonprofit institutions have been needlessly threatened with the loss of Title IV eligibility due to inconsistent application of the authorization requirements by regional offices.