In Dear Colleague Letter GEN-15-10 released Friday, the Department of Education (ED) announced that the effective date for 34 CFR 600.9(a) and (b) of the state authorization regulations is July 1, 2015, after having been delayed three times. The extensions provided states with additional time to finalize processes for institutions to comply with the rules, which generally 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 each separate state in which the institution has a main or additional location offering at least 50 percent of an Title IV-eligible educational program.
ED enforcement of the state authorization rules will occur in the ordinary course of business. Institutions that have obtained sufficient state authorization will have that status confirmed when they are reviewed by ED during recertification, addition of locations or programs, or other existing processes requiring such review. The school does not need to take any additional steps for state authorization compliance.
Institutions located in those few states where agencies are still putting in place a sufficient state authorization process may have their current status continued for a reasonable period to permit a state process to become final.
Note that the DCL does not affect the section of the state authorization regulations requiring distance education programs to obtain permission to operate in every state in which they enroll at least one student [34 CFR 600.9(c)]. Following a court decision overturning this portion of the state authorization regulations and a subsequent 2012 appeals court ruling that the regulation was not a logical outgrowth of ED’s proposed rules, ED announced in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-12-13 that it is no longer enforcing 600.9(c). State authorization for distance education was part of the program integrity negotiated rulemaking that concluded in 2014 without consensus. To date, ED has not issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on state authorization for distance education. Therefore, the stay on enforcement of state authorization for distance education programs continues.
Publication Date: 6/22/2015