State Authorization Regulations
What are the State Authorization Regulations?
The new regulations were published by the USDOE in the Federal Register (Chapter 34, § 600.9(c)). They require all institutions of higher education to seek authorization in every state (and territory) in which they “operate” in order to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid. These regulations specifically include distance education (online learning, correspondence courses, etc), previously assumed inapplicable by most institutions.
This legislation has been vacated and faces opposition but is expected to return. However, regardless of the federal regulations, institutions are required to comply with state legislation. State agencies are now newly aware that schools could be operating in their states without authorization and it is increasingly important to ensure that WOU is not one of them.
What does this mean for WOU?
Because most state regulations were created long before the introduction of online learning, the approval process is not universal. Some states charge heavy fees and many states have recurring authorization renewal periods. WOU now tracks and monitor students, programs, and state regulation changes. Federal financial aid for students could be at risk if an audited institution has not complied with applicable regulations. WOU has already been forced to turn away distance students from certain states due to the cost of seeking authorization there.
What do we need to do?
1. Monitor marketing efforts for our distance programs
2. Keep track of prospective and current students’ internships, practica, and state of residence
3. Provide information to students and faculty members
Student Complaint Process
In addition to the state authorization regulations, we are also required to provide students with information about the complaint process in each state as well as with our own accrediting agency.(Federal Register, Chapter 34, § 668.43 (b)). The information below will change as we learn more about each agency. Some states are reviewing their current complaint processes or do not yet have one. As information becomes available, we shall post it here as a reference for WOU faculty, staff, and students.
Students may follow this link for information about filing consumer complaints with their state authorizing agency.
Division of Extended Programs (DEP) 503.838.8483 V/TTY or 1.800.451.5767| or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | or fax: 503-838-8473