NAICU Washington Update

More from ED on Distance Ed State Authorization; NAICU Offers Compliance Help

May 02, 2011

In response to growing concerns about state authorization of distance education programs effective July 1, the Department of Education has issued a second "Dear Colleague" letter on the topic.  The letter, issued April 20, improves upon the earlier version (see Washington Update, March 23) in that it lengthens the timeline for full compliance with the requirements, and commits the Department to publishing a full directory of states' distance education requirements.

The Department has said it will not take enforcement action against any institution prior to July 1, 2014, as long as the institution is making a "good faith" effort to comply. Some have misread this to mean that colleges will not have to worry about the new requirement until 2014. This is not the case. All institutions serving out-of-state students through their distance education programs must begin compliance efforts now, and continue those efforts until they obtain all necessary state authorizations.

This new guidance fails to dispel concerns about - nor does it justify - federal involvement in this area of state law. Therefore, NAICU remains committed to repealing or rescinding this provision - as well as the broader state authorization provisions and the federal definition of "credit hour." Most recently, NAICU joined 70 higher education associations and accrediting organizations in letters to education leaders in the House and Senate asking them to block regulations dealing with state authorization and the federal credit hour definition.

NAICU has prepared a background paper to assist institutions in understanding and meeting the requirements of the new regulation. The paper provides a description of what the regulation requires and what constitutes a "good faith" effort to comply. It also information on and links to additional resources.

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