Ten New Distance Ed Projects Expand Higher Ed Access
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today announced the selection of ten new projects under the Distance Education Demonstration program, which tests new ways of helping students finance their distance education studies.
“This administration wants to make sure that no one is left behind when it comes to access to higher education and training,” Paige said. “Distance education enables countless Americans to reach their academic goals without the restrictions of time and place that make it difficult for people like working parents, rural students, and students with disabilities to get a college education.”
These selections are the final set of selections to be made under the demonstration program. The initial group of participants entered the program in July 1999. The 10 new participants bring the total number of institutions in the program up to 111, located in 22 states and the District of Columbia. The department closely monitors the institutions during the program and evaluates their progress.
According to a 1999 department report, enrollments in distance education classes more than doubled in three years, increasing from 753,640 in the 1994-95 school year to 1,632,350 in the 1997-98 school year, and the rapid growth is expected to continue.
A number of statutory and regulatory provisions currently limit the growth of distance education programs at institutions that provide federal financial aid to students. Under the Distance Education Demonstration program, the participating institutions receive waivers from one or more of these requirements in order to give their students greater access to federal financial aid. In addition, some of the participating programs are testing new models for delivering federal financial aid to their distance education students.
The program provides waivers from two legislative provisions:
- The statutory rule that currently bars institutions that enroll 50 percent or more of their students in distance education programs or that offer 50 percent or more of their courses via distance education from participation in the federal student aid programs. This waiver will make it possible for students at institutions that offer all courses and programs via distance education to receive federal financial aid and allows currently participating institutions to significantly expand their distance education programs;
- The statutory rule that requires that an academic year provide a minimum of 30 weeks of instruction. This waiver will permit qualified students who complete an equivalent amount of work in a shorter period of time to receive a full year’s worth of aid for their educational expenses. It will also simplify the administration of federal student aid for schools that do not offer instruction in traditional academic terms such as semesters.
Waivers will also be granted for other regulations relating to the administration of federal student aid that will allow institutions to, for example, award credit to students based on achievement of competencies and share courses among consortium members.
The projects are expected to continue through the 2003-04 academic year when Congress is expected to consider comprehensive changes to the Higher Education Act.
Following is the list of 10 new participants selected in the Distance Education Demonstration Program, including institutions within each consortium.
- American InterContinental University
Contact: Dr. Robin Throne
Phone: 877-221-5800 ext. 2002
- Brevard Community College
Contact: Dr. Kathy Cobb
Phone: 321-632-1111 ext. 63790
- Eastern Oregon University
Contact: Robert Clarke
- Iowa Regents Consortium
Iowa City, Iowa
Contact: Chester S. Rzonca
Note: This consortium includes The University of Iowa, Iowa State University, The University of Northern Iowa, and The University of Missouri
Contact: Richard Vigilante
Note: This consortium includes Fordham University, New York; Georgetown University, Washington, DC; Loyola University Chicago, Illinois; University of Detroit Mercy, Michigan
- Marlboro College
Contact: Claudine Keenan
- Regis University
Contact: Dr. Marie Friedemann
- U.S. Sports Academy
Contact: T. J. Rosandich
Phone: 334-626-3303, ext 158
- Walden University
Contact: Dr. Gwen Hillesheim
Phone: 612-338-7224, ext 1211
- University of Phoenix
Contact: Robert Collins