The Upcoming Higher Education Act Reauthorization

Why the e-Learning Community Should Pay Attention

What is the legal basis for so many of those pesky federal regulations that have gotten your attention over the past few years? The Higher Education Act of 1965. The law is supposed to be "reauthorized" every five years, and Congress has begun its work on its rewrite of what will be the next iteration of the HEA.

As distance education, blended learning, flipped classrooms, and education technology have changed the landscape of higher education, so too will they capture the imagination of those drafting the reauthorization. Furthermore, as the US Department of Education continues to promulgate regulations and policies on numerous topics that directly impact the core functions of e-learning, Congress and their staff will examine those issues with a critical eye of what the Department has gotten right and where Congress needs to intervene.

The e-learning community did not pay adequate attention to the last reauthorization in 2008. We need to do better this time around, as a community, in having our voice heard.

This moderated panel will begin with a brief history of past HEA reauthorizations and then turn to a conversation among policy experts about what to expect, when to expect it, and how to engage.

e-Learning regulations that may be considered in this round of reauthorization:

  • Preventing financial aid fraud for distance education.
  • Academic Integrity - assuring that the student taking an assessment is the same one who is enrolled in a course.
  • State authorization for programs offered through distance education or correspondence education.
  • Assuring students with disabilities.
  • Whether distance students should be eligible for less financial aid.
  • Tracking first-day and last-day of attendance for students who withdraw from distance programs without notification.
  • Requirements for administering aid in direct assessment (competency-based) programs.
  • The role of accrediting agencies in assuring quality in distance education.
  • The role of accrediting agencies in accrediting new education providers and providers of badges.
  • Additional reporting requirements or restrictions on for-profit institutions.
  • ...and those that will emerge as surprises.


David Bergeron
Vice President for Postsecondary Education,
Center for American Progress

Allison Dembeck
Director of Congressional and Public Affairs,
US Chamber of Commerce

Russell Poulin
Interim Co-Executive Director,
WCET - WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies

Christopher Murray, Moderator
Thompson Coburn LLP

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