New rules for schools providing online courses are being proposed that would require state authorization to qualify for federal financial aid dollars, the U.S. Department of Education said Tuesday. The proposal will help students get a quality education and make sure that taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted on schools that fail to deliver, said Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.
“Online courses have become an increasingly popular option for students seeking a higher education, especially for vocational training,” said Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney for Consumers Union. “Today’s proposal represents an important step towards creating baseline federal standards for distance education programs that will help protect students from poor quality schools that do little more than burden them with debt.”
Under the proposal, the department would require a school offering distance education programs to get authorization in each state where it wants to market its programs to students. It also requires any agreement between states to leave room for states to enforce their own consumer protection laws.