Although the rules took effect in September, the Regents granted schools a six-month grace period to obtain authorization. Only schools that are approved participants in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) are automatically exempt from this requirement.

There is a Catch-22: although the grace period expires on March 28, the Regents still have not put in place procedures to process applications for purely online out-of-state institutions, leaving those schools unable to satisfy the Regents’ new authorization requirement. Despite this conundrum, the Regents have thus far declined to place the new regulation on hold.

Now the Regents have announced that any out-of-state degree-granting online school that wants to continue enrolling new New York residents after March 28 must apply for and receive an extension. However, State Education Department staff who administer the Regents’ requirements have confirmed that if an institution fails to secure an extension it can continue to serve previously enrolled students. There is no indication as to how the Regents intend to penalize schools that do not secure an extension and continue to enroll new students.

Until the Board finalizes its new authorization procedures for purely online programs, affected schools have only two options; secure an extension or cease new enrollments on March 28. Requesting an extension now should be a high priority. Schools can obtain the extension form from the NYSED website. We will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as soon as more information becomes available.

Nancy Anderson focuses on regulatory issues affecting higher education institutions, including compliance with federal, state and accrediting agency requirements.

Greg Ferenbach advises both for-profit and nonprofit clients on education law matters at the federal and state levels with an emphasis on issues arising from online learning.

Mike Goldstein has been a pioneer in the development of new and more effective and efficient approaches to education in general and eLearning in particular through the creation of innovative approaches to combining the resources and interests of the various sectors of the education, technology, financial and governmental communities.

Paul Thompson counsels schools and technology companies that provide services to schools on regulatory challenges in the education sector.

Posted by Cooley