Higher Ed Committee Reaches Agreement on Proposed State Authorization Rules

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Update: On April 26, 2019, a U.S. District Court decided the rule scheduled to take effect in summer 2018 was improperly delayed and should take effect on May 26, 2019. The Department of Education has not yet reacted to the decision, so the practical impact of that decision is currently unclear.

Since January 2019, a negotiated rulemaking committee for the U.S. Department of Higher Education has been working to come to an agreement on a large package of proposed changes to higher education regulations, including state authorization rules that had originally been scheduled to go into effect in summer 2018.

Now the committee and subcommittees have reached consensus on a wide range of topics but not without a great deal of compromise.

What’s in the Proposal?

You may have heard the Department of Education had initially proposed eliminating the federal state authorization regulation. However, the rulemaking committee decided to keep the requirement for an institution to be authorized to operate in any state where it enrolls students. To maintain eligibility for federal financial aid funding, institutions must meet state authorization requirements. Under the proposed rule, participation in a state authorization reciprocity agreement meets the authorization requirement.

The committee’s proposal also requires institutions to disclose whether a licensure program meets licensure requirements in all 50 states – regardless of whether the program is offered online or on-campus. This is a change from the previous version of the rule, which required disclosures only for online licensure programs.

Finally, the proposal requires that institutions have a process in place to act when a student relocates to a different state.

When Do the New Rules Take Effect?

It’s important to note that though committee members reached consensus on proposed rules, the rules are not yet final. Consensus is a step toward implementation of the final rules. Next, the Department of Education will publish the rules for public comment. After the comment period closes, the department will consider the comments before developing final regulations. The earliest date the new rules could take effect is July 1, 2020.

Congress’ intention to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) could also impact the final rules. Changes to the HEA would require more changes to the higher education rules that go with it.

What's the Bottom Line?

Ohio State already has processes in place to meet many of the requirements in the proposed rules. If the rules are finalized, Ohio State would need to enhance and document current processes to meet requirements for on-campus licensure program disclosures and to act when a student relocates to a different state.

The state authorization team will monitor any changes to the proposed regulation, analyze the impact on Ohio State activities, and work with units to develop compliance strategies to meet the requirements. Look for more information as the proposal continues to make its way through the rulemaking process.

Contact the state authorization team with questions about the proposed regulations.