Marshall A. Hill, Executive Director
NC-SARA’s auditors recently completed their audit of NC-SARA financial statements for the years ended June 30, 2017 and 2016. (NC-SARA’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.) The audit was done by the Denver office of RubinBrown, a national accounting and professional consulting firm working in more than a dozen industries – including non-profit organizations, colleges and universities.
“Coming in July” Rules
On December 19, 2016 the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published new rules regarding state authorization of distance education and student assistance general provisions (34 CRF – Parts 600 and 668, respectively); those rules are to become effective July 1, 2018. They contain many requirements that will affect institutions’ distance education work, including the provision of notifications to students about an institution’s state authorization status in every state in which it enrolls students; its accreditation status (including any adverse actions it may have received); and whether the completion of the institution’s pre-licensure programs would enable students to sit for licensure exams in the various states. Institutions must also provide expanded information about how students may lodge complaints against the institution. In this post, we’ll focus on the licensure issue.
We are pleased today to release two documents relating to SARA: NC-SARA 2017 Enrollment Report (available HERE) and a short paper that compares those reported enrollments to 2015 IPEDS distance education data -- NC-SARA Reported Enrollment Mirrors National Distance Education Data, with Some Notable Exceptions (available HERE). Both reports were prepared for NC-SARA by Terri Taylor Straut, Senior Research Analyst at WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technology).
NC-SARA has sent the U.S. Department of Education a comment on the definition of a "state authorization reciprocity agreement" contained in rules the Department issued in December, 2016. The letter is available HERE
The NC-SARA 2017 Enrollment Data Reporting period will run from May 22 - June 14, 2017. All SARA institutions are required to participate in enrollment reporting. A link will to an institution-specific web form will be sent to all active institution contacts on or around May 22nd. We encourage you to decide which person will be responsible for reporting and submitting your institution's information.
NC-SARA is pleased to announce the election of four new board members: Kathleen Santora, Peter Smith, Larry Tremblay and Michael C. Zola. Each will serve three-year terms extending through 2019. Biographical information on the new members is available HERE; a complete roster of board members is available HERE.
Today NC-SARA released information about the upcoming reporting of institutional enrollments. On February 9, a group of individuals met in Boulder to discuss the May 2016 reporting and make recommendations for the 2017 reporting. Those recommendations and NC-SARA's responses can be found HERE.
ACICS (the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools) is a national accrediting body that has been in the news for the well-publicized failures of some of the institutions it has accredited and accusations of lax accrediting practices. The US Department of Education has removed ACICS from its list of "recognized" accreditors, but a lawsuit over that action is pending in the courts. In the meantime, ACICS-accredited schools have 18 months to obtain accreditation by another recognized accreditor in order to maintain the eligibility of their students to participate in federal financial aid programs.
As many of you know, we were disappointed with the state authorization of distance education rules recently released by the Department. That disappointment changed to confusion after we read a blog post by our good friend and colleague Russ Poulin of WCET.
As many of you know, the Department recently released new rules on the state authorization of distance education. Those rules contain what we and many others have viewed as a troubling definition of a "state authorization reciprocity agreement."
Recent conversations that our friend and colleague Russ Poulin of WCET has had with Department staff indicate that we're misinterpreting what they intended with that definition.