Here you will find information on institutional accreditation, complaint processes, and state authorization. The map below shows where NSU is authorized to offer online courses and online degree programs. The Office of Electronic and Continuing Education at NSU is working diligently to comply with every state's regulations to allow students from all states to enroll in our online programs.
On October 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released new "program integrity" regulations. One of the regulations focused on the need for institutions offering distance or correspondence education to acquire authorization from any state in which it "operates." This authorization is required to maintain eligibility for students of that state to receive federal financial aid. Institutions have until July 1, 2014, to have obtained the appropriate approvals. Meanwhile, institutions are required to demonstrate a 'good faith' effort to comply in each state in which it serves students.
State regulations predate the federal regulation and remain in effect. States with regulations expect that institutions already be in compliance with their regulations before serving any students in their state.
-- WCET LEARN
The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court ruling to ‘vacate' the distance education portion (§600.9c) of the U.S. Department of Education's ‘state authorization' regulation. In last summer's ruling on a lawsuit challenging the regulation, the U.S. District Court ruled to vacate the distance education portion, but purely on procedural grounds.
When proposing a regulation, the Department of Education is supposed to follow a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking process, which allows the public to comment on suggested rules. The District Court found that "the State authorization regulations, as this subsection, or any variation thereof, was not included in the notice of proposed rulemaking."
On July 27, the U.S. Department of Education issued a "Dear Colleague" letter stating that it will NOT enforce the distance education provision of the state authorization regulations.
In our blog posting earlier this week, we said that the U.S. Department says that it will not enforce its distance education state authorization regulations, but that many questions remain. I've had several conversations over the last few days as we try to figure out exactly what the wording in the 'Dear Colleague' letter of July 27 actually means.
Jarret Cummings of EDUCAUSE posted his views on the USDOE's letter. He adds unique analysis by tying in observations from the Senate report on for-profit regulations that was recently released. That report chides states for not doing enough in authorization reviews of institutions offering distance education and implies that a greater federal influence on state authorization requirements may be needed in the future.
With another take on it, below is an opinion piece from Michael Goldstein and Greg Ferenbach of Dow Lohnes, the Washington DC law firm with extensive higher education expertise. They also call into question the meaning of the wording in the 'Dear Colleague' letter.
Yes, it's confusing, but when hasn't it been? I'll echo Mike and Greg's concluding sentiment..."stay tuned." Meanwhile, we're still gathering questions to ask the Department.
Russ Poulin, WCET
NOTICE: Northwestern State University is not regulated in Texas under Chapter 132 of the Texas Education Code. All NSU's online programs are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. For a complete listing of professional accreditation by program, click here.