Enzi works to improve distance education

September 27, 2001

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced legislation today that would give more students in rural areas access to higher education by expanding Internet-based distance education programs.

“The Internet is a valuable tool that can be used to improve learning opportunities. Further increasing the flexibility of distance education programs through the Internet would benefit students, especially those in rural areas,” said Enzi.

The Internet Equity and Education Act of 2001, S. 1445, would remove three regulatory barriers that currently limit the ability of colleges and universities to expand their distance education programs.

Due to concerns about the integrity of correspondence education, current legislation prohibits colleges and universities, that offer more than 50 percent of their courses through distance education programs, from also offering federal financial aid to their students.

S. 1445 would make it easier for students participating in distance education programs to qualify for financial aid by modifying this rule. In order to qualify, the school must already successfully administer student loan programs, however, and have a default rate of less than 10 percent for the preceding three years.

“This legislation would allow schools to provide more financial assistance to distance education students as they pursue a higher education,” said Enzi.

The legislation would also change the definition of a week of instruction for distance education programs to align it with the definition that is used for other traditional college courses. Traditional courses require students to have one hour of instruction for each course they are enrolled in throughout the week. Distance education courses, however, require students to have 12 hours of instruction for each course per week.

“The intent of distance education courses is to make learning opportunities more accessible and flexible for students. Changing this rule would allow students in these programs to ultimately complete a degree as if they were enrolled in traditional courses,” said Enzi.

The bill would also clarify an incentive compensation program to allow schools to reward third-party individuals for providing information about the school through the Internet.

“This change would help prospective students gain more information about all of the higher education opportunities that are available while still maintaining protections to prevent unethical recruitment,” said Enzi.

Date: September 24, 2001

Contact: Coy Knobel, phone 202-224-3424

Web address: enzi.senate.gov

Email: Coy_Knobel@enzi.senate.gov