New distance learning agreement draft forthcoming

The online learning drafting team hopes to have language for state legislatures to consider next year.

Drafters of an interstate agreement on distance learning in higher education are entering the final stages of creating a model agreement that would make it much easier for colleges and universities offering online classes to students from different states to get approval from those states.

The draft agreement would allow colleges and universities with online programs to meet controversial “state authorization” requirements—without the huge expense this otherwise would require. The Education Department’s state authorization rules, which would have cut off federal aid to non-compliant colleges, were struck down on a technicality by a federal appeals court earlier this year, but experts agree they could reemerge in the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

The draft agreement would eliminate redundancies and inefficiencies for states and higher-education institutions by establishing “reciprocity” among states that sign onto the effort—in effect creating a single standard for online-education programs to meet in order to gain approval across state lines.…Read More