Cutting Their Losses

Colleges trying to obtain permission from every state in which they enroll students, as required by a new Education Department rule, have confronted a patchwork of widely different regulations. Fees can range from none at all to thousands of dollars per course or degree program. Requirements range from lax (the institution must be accredited) to stringent (facing a possible site inspection — and paying all of the inspectors’ travel costs).

In response to the rule, some institutions will abandon some states altogether, a survey released today by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies has found. Many of those colleges cited Massachusetts, Minnesota and Arkansas as places where they will no longer enroll students. At least 19,000 students total will be turned away, the colleges who responded to the relevant survey questions estimated.

The state authorization rule, part of the Obama administration’s package of new regulations intended mainly to rein in for-profit colleges, requires colleges to obtain permission for every state in which they “operate,” even if that means only enrolling a student or employing a faculty member in that state. The rule was struck down by a U.S. District Court in July.

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