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Streamlined Rules Proposed for Online Programs

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) released a report last week suggesting that regulations should be standardized for higher education institutions that offer online education programs to students in different states. Currently these institutions are required to comply with the different rules for each individual state from which their students enroll.

As many institutions are moving programming online to reach more students, the challenges of complying with all the varying rules and fees associated with serving students in separate states are becoming more apparent.

The report, titled “Advancing Access through Regulatory Reform,” said online education institutions that offer credit for courses should only be regulated by their home state, rather than by each state where their students live. Since Massive Open Online Courses do not yet offer credit, they are currently exempt from complying with individual state regulations.

The aim of the report is to propose general regulations that would help protect students across the United States. Since implementing a new nation-wide system for regulating online institutions is considered too costly and time consuming, the alternative solutions proposed could allow reciprocity agreements between states to help simplify the rules for governing an online institution.

“States have been forced to deal with this national phenomenon through their own prism,” Peter McPherson, president of the APLU, told Inside Higher Ed. “The resulting multicolored checker board is costly and inefficient.”