A group of higher-education leaders, accreditors, and regulators led by a former U.S. education secretary is seeking to streamline distance-education and state-authorization regulations to make it easier and more affordable for colleges to enroll students across the country.
The group, the Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education, released a report on Thursday that proposes a plan for interstate reciprocity, based on the voluntary participation of states and colleges.
The commission said such a framework would help reduce the high costs and inefficiencies often associated with applying for authorization, and would do so by establishing nationwide performance guidelines agreed to by participating states.
Colleges have been required for many years to receive authorization from the states in which they enroll students before they can receive federal student-aid funds.
Though many colleges assumed the requirement did not apply to online programs, a federal rule, adopted in July 2011, sought to explicitly extend the rule to online and distance-education programs. The rule was overturned shortly thereafter, but many states still adopted new regulations for institutions operating distance-education programs within their borders. <Read more.>