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Russ Poulin: WCET Federal Regulation Updates Feb 2018


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Day 3 Presentation
Russ Poulin, WCET
NUTN Policy handout: WCET Federal Regulation Updates Feb 2018

Open SUNY Summit 2018 -
Annual conference for the SUNY online teaching and learning community of practice.
February 28 - March 2, 2018, SUNY Global Center, NY, NY.

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Russ Poulin: WCET Federal Regulation Updates Feb 2018

  1. 1. Russ Poulin, Director, Policy & Analysis, WCET NUTN / SUNY Meetings and February / March 2018 WGU Audit by the Office of Inspector General OIG found that WGU was not eligible to disburse Title IV financial aid and recommended it return more than $700 million in aid. Issues around “regular and substantive interaction,” the definition of “instructor,” and “self-paced” were all cited. The recommendation goes to the Department of Education financial aid staff. They may rule soon and the recommendation is expected to be rejected. CBE and distance education providers should watch closely. State Authorization of Distance Education In December 2016, the Department of Education released proposed state authorization for distance education regulations to be enforced beginning July 1, 2018, including: • Demonstrate Compliance. Institutions must demonstrate that it has the authorization in each state in which it enrolls distance students who are receiving federal financial aid. Authorization may be by the state or through reciprocity. • Recognize Reciprocity. Reciprocity is a path to authorization. Reciprocity agreements must allow states to enforce “consumer protection” laws, but the Department sent a letter to SARA and WCET clarifying that it does not negate SARA’s rules. • Redefines Student “Residence.” Conflicts with state definitions. • New ‘Public’ Disclosures. Inform students via a website… o The institutions authorization in the student’s state and source of approval. o ‘Document’ complaint process in each student’s state. o ‘Adverse actions’ from states or accreditors for last five years. o Refund policies required by states. o For programs leading to professional licensure/certification…what the state’s education prerequisites are and if your program meets those requirements. • New ‘Individualized’ Disclosures. Inform students directly via email or mail… o If you do not (or have not determined) that you meet professional licensure/certification educational requirements in student’s state. o Written acknowledgement from student who enrolls anyway. o New adverse actions (within 30 days) or loss of licensure approval (14 days). Resources Reactions to final state authorization regulation in WCET Frontiers blog: US ED clarifies intent on reciprocity: WCET State Authorization Network: Current academic integrity requirement (Chapter 34, 602.179g)): Senate HELP Committee members: “Forever” GI Bill:
  2. 2. Russ Poulin, Director, Policy & Analysis, WCET NUTN / SUNY Meetings and February / March 2018 FEDERAL REGULATORY UPDATE Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act The Higher Education Opportunities Act of 2008 includes most of the federal regulations for higher education and sets the standards for federal financial aid eligibility. Both houses of Congress are considering “reauthorization” (updating) the act and changing the regulations. • House Prosper Act – a product of one party. o The definition of “distance education” is replaced by “competency-based education.” The definition of “regular and substantive interaction” is changed. o Removed the federal state authorization for distance education requirement. o Changes accrediting agency requirements, replacing specific oversight of distance education with specific oversight of competency-based education. o Expands aid eligibility to non-accredited providers partnering with colleges. • Senate is more bipartisan, held several hearings, and is asking for input. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee members hail from: AL, AK, CO, CT, GA, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MN, NH, NC, PA, SC, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WY. Student Identity for Academic Integrity and Financial Aid Fraud Chapter 34, 602.17(g) places on accrediting agencies the responsibility to require: “institutions that offer distance education or correspondence education to have processes in place through which the institution establishes that the student who registers in a distance education or correspondence education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the academic credit.” Since placed into law in 2008, there have been two Department of Education Office of Inspector General reports that have been highly critical of the Department’s oversight of financial aid fraud and the student identity verification for coursework standards set out above. The House PROSPER bill makes some changes. We need to assure that fraud and academic integrity are not confused. New “Forever” GI Bill Last year, this Bill extended the deadlines for veterans and their families to use their GI Bill benefits beyond the previous 15-year deadline. It also extends benefits to all Purple Heart recipients, restores benefits if a college closes, and expands aid to non-accredited providers. Negotiated Rulemaking on Gainful Employment and Borrower Defenses Just as these regulations were set to go into effect last July, the Department delayed them. Negotiated Rulemaking is under way. The regulations will likely be addressed in reauthorization or greatly reduced in scope.