|S 1203 IS, the "Distance Education and
Online Learning Act of 2003"
Sponsors: Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Sen. Ben Campbell (R-CO).
Date Introduced: June 6, 2003.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Distance Education and Online Learning Act of 2003''.
SEC. 2. STUDENT ELIGIBILITY.
Section 484(l)(1) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(l)(1)) is amended--
(1) in subparagraph (A)--
(A) by striking ``in whole or in part'' and inserting ``predominantly'';
(B) by striking ``of 1 year or longer''; and
(C) by striking ``unless'' and all that follows through ``all courses at the institution''; and
(2) by amending subparagraph (B) to read as follows:
``(B) REQUIREMENT.--An institution of higher education referred to in subparagraph (A) is an institution of higher education that is not an institution or school described in section 3(3)(C) of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998.''.
SEC. 3. DEFINITION OF ELIGIBLE PROGRAM.
Section 481(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1088(b)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
``(3)(A) A program that is offered predominantly through distance education methods and processes (other than correspondence courses) is an eligible program for purposes of this title if--
``(i) the program was reviewed and approved by an accrediting agency or association that--
``(I) is recognized by the Secretary under subpart 2 of part H; and
``(II) has evaluation of distance education programs within the scope of its recognition; and
``(ii) the institution offering the program--
``(I) has not had its participation in programs under this title limited, suspended, or terminated within the preceding 5 years;
``(II) has not had or failed to resolve an audit finding or program review finding under this Act during the preceding 2 years that resulted in the institution being required to repay an amount that is greater than 10 percent of the total funds the institution received under the programs authorized by this title for any award year covered by the audit or program review;
``(III) has not been found by the Secretary during the preceding 5 years to be in material noncompliance with the provisions of this Act related to the submission of acceptable and timely audit reports required under this title; and
``(IV) is determined to be financially responsible under regulations promulgated by the Secretary pursuant to section 498(c).
``(B) If the accreditation agency or association withdraws approval of the program described in subparagraph (A)(i) or the institution fails to meet any of the requirements described in subparagraph (A)(ii), then the program shall cease to be an eligible program at the end of the award year in which such withdrawal of approval or failure to meet such requirements occurs. The program shall not be an eligible program until the provisions of subparagraph (A) (i) and (ii) are met again.
``(4) The Secretary shall promulgate regulations for determining whether a program that offers a degree or certificate on the basis of a competency assessment, that examines the content of the course work provided by the institution of higher education, is an eligible program for purposes of this title.''.
SEC. 4. RECOGNITION OF ACCREDITING AGENCY OR ASSOCIATION.
Section 496 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1099b) is amended--
(1) in subsection (n)(3), by striking the last sentence and inserting the following: ``If the agency or association requests that the evaluation of institutions offering distance education programs be included within its scope of recognition, and demonstrates that the agency or association meets the requirements of subsection (p), then the Secretary shall include the accreditation of institutions offering distance education programs within the agency's or association's scope of recognition.''; and
(2) by adding at the end the following:
``(p) DISTANCE EDUCATION PROGRAMS.--An agency or association that seeks to evaluate the quality of institutions offering distance education programs within its scope of recognition shall, in addition to meeting the other requirements of this subpart, demonstrate to the Secretary that the agency or association assesses--
``(1) measures of student achievement of students enrolled in distance education programs;
``(2) the preparation of faculty and students to participate in distance education programs;
``(3) the quality of interaction between faculty and students in distance education programs;
``(4) the availability of learning resources and support services for students in distance education programs; and
``(5) measures to ensure the integrity of student participation in distance education programs.''.