November 4, 2011

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT PROMULGATES “SECRET RULE” THAT HURTS ONLINE SCHOOLS: “Among the many new program integrity rules the U.S. Education Department issued a little over a year ago was one that went relatively unnoticed at the time: a rule that defines the ‘last date of attendance’ for students who withdraw from online programs more stringently than in the past, and differently than for students in a traditional classroom. . . . But before the program integrity rules took effect in July 2011 — and even before they were published publicly, in October 2010 — the Education Department was already using the new definition of “last date of attendance,” which varied considerably from the previous version, to begin investigations and, in some cases, collect financial aid refunds for students who dropped out. When the Education Department began using the ‘last day of attendance’ rule to evaluate colleges in audits, it had never been publicly announced. In effect, a group of higher education associations has argued, the department was expecting institutions to play a game without knowing the rules.”

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