On December 19th, the U.S. Department of Education released final regulations to improve oversight and protect more than 5.5 million distance education students at degree-granting institutions including nearly 3 million exclusively online students by clarifying the state authorization requirements for postsecondary distance education. To ensure that institutions offering distance education are legally authorized and monitored by states, as required by the Higher Education Act, the final regulations clarify state authorization requirements for institutions to participate in the Department’s federal student aid programs. The regulations also address state and federal oversight of American colleges operating in foreign locations worldwide.
The new regulations will not take effect until July 1, 2018. Given this timeframe, many in the higher education policy community believe the rule will be undone by the incoming administration.