2019 Federal State Authorization Rules released
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has moved forward with the anticipated release of the new federal requirements for state authorization of postsecondary institutions. (https://federalregister.gov/d/2019-23129) The effective date will be July 1, 2020, with early implementation allowed at the discretion of each institution or agency. The new language has been issued following a successful negotiated rulemaking process earlier this year. While it will be important for institutions to study the language carefully, there are a few quick take-aways for NC-SARA member states and participating institutions.
- The state authorization reciprocity agreement definition at 34 CFR §600.2 from 2016 has been revised so that a member State may enforce its own general-purpose State laws and regulations outside of the State authorization of distance education. The language that included “or specifically directed at all or a subgroup of educational institutions” has been removed.
- Language has been added to 34 CFR §600.9 to ensure that institutions are determining where their students are located and doing so consistently.
- ED has clarified the requirement to document a complaint process for distance education students. An institution must disclose at least one point of contact for filing student complaints—the location of the student or the home State of the institution or a third party identified by a State or State reciprocity agreement. (NC-SARA requirements for states to have a process for the resolution of consumer complaints remains unchanged.)
- New language impacting programs leading to professional licensure has been added to 34 CFR §668.43 to ensure that notifications are being made to students regardless of modality. These rules include requirements for both general and direct disclosures for enrolled and prospective students as to whether or not a program’s curriculum meets State educational requirements for licensure or certification. An institution will also be required to provide disclosures when a determination cannot be made.
NC-SARA already has policies in place addressing disclosures related to professional licensure programs. The SARA Manual Policy Section 5.2 addresses requirements for notifying students in writing whether a course or program meets the educational requirements for professional licensure where the students are located. Institutions will also need to know where their students are located per the new federal requirements.
Lori Williams, PhD
President & CEO
November 1, 2019