March 2, 2020
The following is an update outlining federal activity pertaining to regulations released by the Department of Education (ED). NAST provides this information for your review and recommends careful consideration.
Final Rule – Secretary Recognition of Accrediting Agencies
On November 1, 2019, the Department of Education released in the Federal Register (see Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 212) new regulations concerning the recognition of accrediting agencies and state authorization providers for postsecondary education, federally mandated reviews of substantive change, and distance education state authorization requirements.
Significant provisions of the final regulations include: the removal of geographic boundaries from accrediting activities of regional accrediting bodies; the modification of timelines for institutions and programs to come into compliance with accreditor standards; changes made to the federal definition of “substantive change” and resultant submission requirements for accreditor review; clarifications of terminologies and definitions related to distance education state authorization including student location and licensure; requirements for state-level complaint processes; confirmation that states participating in authorization reciprocity agreements are prohibited from subjecting institutions to additional state requirements related to state authorization of distance education; and rule modifications and clarifications regarding accreditor practices, teach-out plans, and eligibilities related to federal student aid authorization for institutions with religious missions.
The final regulations include an executive summary, summary of major provisions, analysis of comments and changes, and amended parts of the Code of Federal Regulations. Individuals wishing to seek assistance or guidance pertaining to the preceding information should communicate directly with the staff of the United States Department of Education.
NAST will continue to monitor ongoing federal activities and provide updates as they become available and as appropriate. Again, and as always, please feel free to share this information as you deem appropriate with offices within your institution.
Thank you for your continuing efforts.