PROVIDENCE – Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has joined a coalition of 16 attorneys general that submitted comments to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, opposing the department’s proposal to delay and replace a federal regulation, the Program Integrity and Improvement Rule, which provides consumer protections for students enrolled in online college programs.
The rule is intended to increase transparency and accountability of online programs offered in multiple states and would bolster state regulators’ ability to protect students enrolled in such programs.
“There has been a proliferation of online college programs being offered to students in recent years, and many opt for this format as a way of keeping costs down and advancing their career training,” stated Kilmartin. “With such an investment at stake, it is therefore imperative to have safeguards in place that protect these students from any financial irregularities or licensing scams that may arise from programs that are poorly run or downright misleading.”
The comment was signed by attorneys general in 14 other states including Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
The rule was due to go into effect July 1, and would require schools that offer online programs in multiple states to obtain authorization to operate in each state where the program is offered.
The rule would also require disclosures to online students, including alerting students if a school determines that a program does not satisfy requirements for obtaining professional licensure in the students’ state. Schools would also be required to disclose refund policies and to alert students of adverse actions against the school by accreditors or state agencies.
“Many students are already struggling with tuition costs and they should not have to pay for unnecessary expenses or courses that don’t lead to the professional licensing and training that they need,” added Kilmartin.