New rules for institutions providing distance education have been proposed by the Department of Education, that would require those schools to get authorization in each state in which they wanted to market their online programs to students.
Institutions already have to have state authorization in the states where they are located, but there are no federal requirements when instruction is being offered to students outside of that state.
“These proposed regulations achieve an important balance between accountability and flexibility, and, in so doing, create better protections for students and taxpayers,” U.S. Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell said in a press release. “Additionally, these regulations promote and clarify state authorization procedures, further strengthening the integrity of federal financial aid programs.”
The proposed rules don’t require schools to acquire program accreditation in all states where they want to do business and the disclosure form could be buried in the enrollment contract, according to a report in eCampus News. The student’s home state was also not given authority to resolve consumer complaints, prompting a call to make that state power clear from the Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.
“Some for-profit career colleges have a history of enrolling students in online courses that mire them in debt without providing the education they need to get a license in the state where they live,” said Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney for Consumers Union. “The Department of Education should strengthen its proposal by requiring accreditation for all specific programs offered to ensure students aren’t pushed into signing up for programs that won’t meet their needs.”