Policy Matters: Primers and Insights

Helping you navigate policy frameworks critical to higher education in the United States

As institutions of higher education continue to innovate with online courses and professional continuing education programs, having a general understanding of the regulatory landscape that such initiatives are subject to is critical to their long-term success. These resources provide an introduction to foundational topics in federal legislation and regulations impacting online and professional continuing education for universities and colleges.

Introduction to the Online Learning Regulatory Landscape

How the “Regulatory Triad” Applies to Online and Interstate Learning Experiences.

As institutions of higher education continue to innovate with online courses and programs, having a general understanding of the regulatory landscape that such initiatives are subject to is critical to their long-term success. The geographic reach of these programs (e.g., whether offered only in the institution’s home state, nationally, or internationally) can introduce new jurisdictions beyond what the institution may have explored for any in-person program. Moreover, online programs can be subject to a variety of additional definitions, regulations, and expectations from enforcement agencies and accreditors that are unique to the instructional modality regardless of where such programs are being offered. 

This resource provides an introduction to foundational topics for online education regulatory compliance in the United States.

Access our Introduction to the Online Learning Regulatory Landscape: Brief and Primer

An Introduction to Negotiated Rulemaking for Higher Education

How stakeholders come together with the federal government to influence, and provide expertise on, the implementation and execution of regulations.

Negotiated Rulemaking (Neg Reg) is a process used by the U.S. Department of Education to develop federal regulations for implementing the Higher Education Act (HEA), a law that governs federal higher education programs, including federal financial aid. This process is particularly important for regulations under Title IV (federal financial aid) and teacher quality enhancement. Unlike other federal agencies, the Department of Education frequently uses Neg Reg, though the Education Secretary can waive this requirement in certain situations. This process is crucial for higher education institutions, as it regularly creates regulations that impact their operations. Non-compliance with these regulations can lead to penalties like fees, reimbursement of student tuition, or ineligibility for Title IV funds.

Access our Introduction to Negotiated Rulemaking for Higher Education: Brief and Primer

Policy Matters: Newsletter

As a compliment to our Policy Matters: Briefs and Insights, you can also keep up to date on the latest through our monthly Policy Matters Newsletter.

Below you can find the latest versions of the newsletter. You can also find a full archive of the Newsletter found here.

Distance Education and State Authorization Negotiated Rulemaking Begins | Policy Matters (January 2024)

Major Updates Negotiated Rulemaking Session on Program Integrity and Institutional Quality Begins  The U.S. Department of Education has started a Negotiated Rulemaking Session focused on Program Integrity and Institutional Quality. The first session took place January 8–11. The second session will occur from February 5–8, and the final session is scheduled for March 4–7. These…

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Bipartisan Bills on Workforce Pell and WIOA Retooling Introduced in US House of Representatives | Policy Matters (December 2023)

Major Updates Bipartisan Bills on Workforce Pell and WIOA Retooling Introduced in US House of Representatives A bipartisan group of the U.S. House of Representatives has released the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act, a bill to expand eligibility of Pell Grants for shorter-term programs; and separately, A Stronger Workforce for America Act, a bill making significant…

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Distance Ed, Online Student Reporting, State Authorization and Other Topics Announced for Early 2024 Neg Reg | Policy Matters (November 2023)

Major Updates Distance Education, Online Student Reporting, State Authorization and Other Topics Announced for Early 2024 Negotiated Rulemaking The US Department of Education has announced a negotiated rulemaking session covering topics important to the UPCEA community including distance education, reporting for fully online students, as well as state authorization, among other topics. The announced sessions…

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