State Authorization

Prairie View A&M University
State Authorization

On October 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released a set of new “program integrity” regulations. One of these 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 been given until July 1, 2014, to obtain the appropriate approvals. Meanwhile, institutions are required to demonstrate a ‘good faith’ effort to comply in each state in which it serves students.

On July 12, 2011, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the ‘state authorization’ portion of the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDOE) “program integrity” regulations. The decision was a result of a lawsuit brought by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. The complete ruling can be found on the Court’s website. The primary effect of this ruling is that only 34 C.F.R.§ 600.9(c) was vacated.

On page 39 of the ruling is the statement…”The Court will vacate 34 C.F.R. § 600.9(c).”

§ 600.9(c) is the paragraph in the regulations released October 2010 regarding distance education’s need to seek authorization in each state. The reason for the ruling is that the USDOE did not provide adequate opportunity in the Negotiated Rulemaking Process for institutions to comment. The distance education language was not included in the original language proposed by the USDOE in June 2010 as part of its rulemaking process. The rule appeared in the final “Program Integrity” regulations released in October 2010.

What does this mean to Prairie View A&M University?

That ruling was targeted only at § 600.9(c) of the federal regulations. It has no impact on the remaining regulations including § 668.43 (b) Institutional Information which requires institutions to provide perspective and enrolled students the institutions accreditation information and contact information for filing complaints:

§ 668.43 (b) Institutional Information: The institution must make available for review to any enrolled or prospective student upon request, a copy of the documents describe the institution’s accreditation and its State, Federal, or tribal approval or licensing. The institution must also provide its students or prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accreditor and with its State approval or licensing entity and any other relevant State official or agency that would appropriately handle a student’s complaint.