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Focus on Regulation

U.S. Department of Education Delays Implementation of Certain State Authorization Requirements until July 1, 2015

On June 24, the U.S. Department of Education further delayed the implementation date for certain state authorization regulations for colleges and universities that have been unable to meet the requirements of those regulations—so long as (1) the state in which the college or university is located is working to establish an acceptable authorization process that will take effect by July 1, 2015, and (2) the college or university can produce documentation of the state’s efforts.

The Department’s state authorization regulations, originally published in October 2010, include two basic requirements for an institution to be considered “legally authorized” by a state for purposes of participating in the Title IV student financial aid programs: (1) the state must authorize an institution by name to operate educational programs beyond secondary education, and (2) the state must have a process to review and appropriately act on complaints concerning the institution, including enforcement of applicable state laws related to fraud and false advertising. The deadline for compliance with these requirements has now been delayed twice: first, from the original deadline of July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014; and now, from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015.

The Department is providing the second extension “to provide States with additional time to finalize processes for those institutions to be able to comply with the State authorization provisions in [34 C.F.R.] § 600.9(a) and (b).”  An institution must comply with those provisions with respect to each state in which the institution has a main campus or additional location offering at least 50 percent of an educational program.  In order for an institution that cannot meet those state authorization requirements to receive an extension until July 1, 2015, the institution must “obtain from the State an explanation, such as information on timeline and action steps to ensure compliance, of how an additional one-year extension will permit the State to finalize its procedures so that the institution is in compliance”, and that explanation must be provided to Department staff upon request.