Proposed Department of Education Rules on Professional Licensure and Reciprocity – Big Impact for Distance Education

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

“Déjà vu all over again!”  The Winter 2022 USED Federal Rulemaking brought back our favorite hits from 2019! We will address “what now?” for institutions to manage Federal compliance to provide programs leading to a professional license and the future of reciprocity for out-of-state activities of postsecondary institutions.

Extended Abstract

In this session we plan to engage with the attendees in a game show format to learn their level of understanding of currently effective regulations, the proposed regulations, and proposed effective dates for the proposed new.  We will conclude with the specific elements of “what now”?

Finally, our presentation is intended to share direction with the attendees. Resources will be provided to the attendees to point them to the specific language of new regulations, analysis of these regulations, and next steps that can be taken to plan for any necessary changes at the institution.

In 2019 and 2020, we shared the outcome of the 2019 Federal rulemaking and the regulations addressing professional licensure and state authorization, for purposes of participating in Title IV, HEA programs. On July 1, 2020, Federal regulations became effective requiring notifications for programs leading to a professional license, regardless of modality, to ensure students are making informed decisions about institutions. Additionally, the definition of state authorization reciprocity agreement was clarified. We thought these compliance issues were clear and final changing the focus to the institution’s responsibility to implement these requirements in their institution’s compliance plan.

Imagine the shock and surprise to find that the U.S. Department of Education unexpectedly added professional licensure and reciprocity for a return appearance after the development of effective regulations that came from consensus in the 2019 negotiated rulemaking. These issues were tucked away inside Issue Paper #6: Certification Procedures during the Institutional and Programmatic Eligibility Committee negotiated rulemaking committee. The seven issues of the Institutional and Programmatic Eligibility Committee were released in December 2021 along with a request for nominations for stakeholders affected and knowledgeable about the seven issues shared. There was no hint that there would be discussions or need for expertise around the nuances of compliance for professional licensure or the reciprocity.

Issue Paper #6:  Certification Procedures addressed the process and the agreement that serves as the terms and conditions for an institution to participate in Title IV Federal aid. The Department determined there was a need to add more rigor into this process by adding new items to the agreement called the Program Participation Agreement (PPA) as provided in Federal regulations. Section 32 was added to the PPA raising the notion of ensuring that institution curriculum meets state educational prerequisites for a license or certification in the state where the student is located in order for the program to be eligible for Title IV funds. Additionally, this section directed that institutions should be subject to all consumer protection laws in states where students are located and raised the question of whether reciprocity provides consumer protection. States that are members of SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements) chose to direct that for purposes of activities subject to reciprocity that the conditions directed by the agreement provide consumer protection for education, but that the state’s general purpose consumer protection laws would apply like any other organization or business in the state.

Institutions may wish to address a plan to have a staff member follow the development of regulations coming out of Department of Education Rulemaking. In addition to the U.S. Department of Education webpage devoted to rulemaking and review of Department announcements in the Federal Register, the State Authorization Network (SAN) and WCET will provide timely analysis as information is released by the Department.

Key learning objectives:

  • Effective Federal Regulation Elements
  • Professional Licensure
  • State Authorization and Reciprocity Agreements
  • Department of Education Rulemaking
    • Process and timeline for Department of Education rulemaking.
    • Certification Procedures:  34 CFR 668.14 Section 32
      • Programs leading to a license or certification
      • Reciprocity
    • What now?
  • How should institution’s address and participate in the law and rulemaking process
    • Keep abreast of Department of Education announcements.
    • Communicate with the Financial Aid Office at the institution.
    • Use available resources:  Join the State Authorization Network (SAN) and WCET.
  • Questions and Discussion Time