Article (WCET Frontiers)
Federal Regulations
Professional Licensure
Reciprocity (SARA)

What’s Happened to Those Federal Regs on Professional Licensure and Reciprocity?

In March we alerted you to two proposed changes to U.S. Department of Education regulations from its Negotiated Rulemaking process earlier this year. These proposals would have a great impact on the digital / distance learning world, if implemented. The proposed changes were:

  • Professional Licensure – Currently, institutions are required to notify students if its program meets, does not meet, or the institution has not determined that it meets the educational requirements for the state in which the student is located. The proposed rule would require the program to “ensure” that the program meets the state educational requirements, if any. To “ensure” that the program meets the requirements would protect students but is a standard that is difficult to achieve for some states and programs.
  • State Authorization Reciprocity – Institutions could still use a reciprocity agreement to obtain institutional approval to serve students in a participating state. However, the institution would be eligible to disburse Federal (Title IV) financial aid to students in a state only if that reciprocity agreement complies “with all State consumer protection laws, including both generally applicable State laws and those specific to educational institutions…”
    This adds the requirement for institutions to meet laws specific to educational institutions, which will increase student protections is some states. On the other hand, it could negate reciprocity and will likely increase the work and costs for institutions to serve students in many states.

The Breaking News

Unlike cable news networks “breaking news,” this is actually big news that we learned on Wednesday of this week. The above rules were part of proposed updates to the “Certification Procedures.” These are rules contained in the Program Participation Agreement that institutions must sign to be eligible to disburse federal financial aid.

On Wednesday, the Office of Management and Budget website posted updates on the status of the proposed regulations.[...]

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