NAICU Washington Update

State Authorization of Distance Education Regulations Delayed and will be Renegotiated

June 05, 2018

The U.S. Department of Education has published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would delay implementation of rules related to state authorization of distance education programs and foreign branch campuses until July 1, 2020. As previously reported, the Department is seeking to postpone implementation of the regulations beyond July 1, 2018, when the rules are currently scheduled to go into effect.

According to the notice, which is subject to a brief 15-day comment period, the delay is being sought to allow the Department sufficient time to conduct negotiated rulemaking to revise the regulations. This renegotiation is intended to address concerns raised by the higher education community about the impact of the regulations on students participating in out-of-state online education programs, and to address confusion among institutions regarding implementation.

The rule governing state authorization of distance education programs was originally part of a broad package of program integrity regulations issued in 2010 by the Department.  The intent of the regulations was to crack down on unscrupulous higher education providers.  However, due to various legal and operational roadblocks, final regulations governing state authorization of distance education programs were not released until 2016, or scheduled to go into effect until this year.

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