In a Federal Register notice released yesterday, the Department of Education (ED) announced that the implementation date for 34 CFR 600.9(a) and (b) of the state authorization regulations has been delayed for a third time, until July 1, 2015. Previous guidance had delayed the implementation until July 1, 2013, and then again until July 1, 2014.
The extension provides states with additional time to finalize processes for those institutions to be able to comply with the state authorization provisions in § 600.9(a) and (b), which require that an institution be authorized by name by an appropriate state agency and that the state agency must have a process for reviewing and acting upon student complaints. Those provisions apply to an institution separately with respect to each state in which the institution has a main or additional location offering at least 50 percent of an eligible educational program.
To receive a further extension, an institution must obtain from the state an explanation of how an additional one-year extension will permit the state to finalize its procedures to comply with amended 34 CFR 600.9.
The written explanation obtained from the state may apply to multiple institutions within that state or be specific to the institution requesting a one-year extension. ED is not establishing a process under which an institution must submit to ED a request for an extension nor the written explanation from the state to the institution. Institutions should not submit requests for extension or documentation of the one-year extensions to ED. Rather, institutions should maintain documentation demonstrating that the institution qualifies for each extension and be able to produce the state’s written explanation for each extension upon request. ED may request this information when an institution is seeking certification or recertification or if a question arises due to a complaint, program review or audit.
Note that the section of the state authorization regulations that requires distance education programs to obtain permission to operate in every state in which they enroll at least one student [34 CFR 600.9(c)] is not affected by the implementation date extension. Following a court decision overturning this portion of the state authorization regulations, ED announced in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-12-13 that it is no longer enforcing 600.9(c). However, state authorization for distance education was part of the program integrity negotiated rulemaking that concluded this spring without consensus. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is expected to be released this summer and will include new proposed rules on state authorization for distance education.
Publication Date: 6/25/2014