Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just So You Know..."State Authorization" Has Not Gone Away

There was a lot of publicity recently when the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would no longer enforce a requirement that had been placed in their regulations that distance education programs would have to obtain permission to operate in every state in which they enroll at least one student.

While the Department's decision was good news, the issue did not go away. In fact, it moved to the forefront in many states. As one observer said, "the genie is out of the bottle." Many states already had laws on the books that required registration or some other form of authorization but had never enforced them, while a couple of states saw a revenue opportunity and swiftly passed such laws. Most states simply do not have the manpower to enforce the laws and with the threat of federal enforcement now gone, many colleges will simply wait to get caught rather than paying the registration fees or going through whatever process the state has set up.

There is another troubling aspect to this controversy - some of the state laws also say that placing even one student in a clinical or externship site also triggers a "physical presence" in the state and requires authorization.

Just so you know, CAAHEP has assembled a chart that provides a "thumbnail" sketch of what the various states require in terms of both distance education and clinical placements.  Proceed at your own risk! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Déjà Vu All Over Again!

It has been more than a year since I posted a blog and what’s even more remarkable than how quickly that time has passed is the fact that my topic continues to be a variation on the same theme as previous entries: unethical or questionable practices by some colleges, most of them for-profit entities.

But while there have been lots of allegations about aggressive recruiting practices, misrepresentation of job placement rates and misleading information about accreditation status, today’s topic may be the most reprehensible yet, not because the behaviors are new but, rather, because of the population being targeted: veterans and active-duty military personnel.

Most of the abuse stems from something called the “90-10” rule which requires that no more than 90% of a school’s revenue can come from federal financial aid. But for some reason, revenue from veteran’s benefits is considered “other” income and is not counted in the 90% limit. Congress has debated ways to get at this problem but no consensus has been reached on legislation. So, on June 12th, President Obama signed an executive order that will force schools to disclose more information about topics like financial aid and graduation rates. It also requires DOD to set rules for recruiting at military installations.

In addition, the order sets up a complaint system for reporting suspected institutional fraud or abuse of veterans’ benefits, and it requires institutions to abide by the same rules as schools that receive financial aid from the Education Department.

In an effort to get out ahead of the story, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (the organization that represents for-profit institutions) issued a statement on June 11th outlining “Five Tenets of Veteran Education.” Needless to say, APSCU disagrees with many elements of the Executive Order and the battles will no doubt continue.