Thursday, April 21, 2011

USDE = Emily Litella

For the last several weeks, higher ed circles have been spinning wildly because of a "Dear Colleague" letter delivered to IHEs by the United States Department of Education, which through its Title IV funds provides life support to nearly all of American higher ed.

The upshot of the letter was to remind institutions that under the recent Higher Education Act, IHEs eligible for Title IV funds must be fully in compliance with state laws in all states where they operate. To stay eligible for those funds (Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and all the rest), IHEs must show good-faith effort to comply with all state regulations to which they are subject by 1 July 2011.

No biggie, right? Well, the USDE specifically warned that such compliance must extend to distance education.

And inasmuch as most state regulations were devised before the internet, some are difficult and expensive for distance ed and can even apply if a single student happens to reside within the state's sovereign borders.

So, IHE went into overdrive, simultaneously complaining from government interference in interstate commerce (students of politics take note of the extreme ironies) and consulting any and every expert for a way to avoid compiling endless documents and paying endless fees.

As a denizen of higher ed, SWNID has been a part of the frenzy.

Until today. When another "Dear Colleague" letter arrived. And now the deadline to show good-faith compliance is 1 July 2014.

That is not a misprint. We now have three years to get legal, not three months.

All of which reminds us of . . .

Only in America!

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