It’s a little known fact that not every college or university can offer online classes in every state. Like many consumer goods, individual states may have regulations that are more or less stringent that those of other states, or the federal government. It is important that students from outside Missouri, who are considering taking an online class from Truman State University, make themselves aware of these rules so that they know how their educational choices affect them.
An effort is currently underway called SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement). This agreement permits colleges and universities to register through a “portal agency” in their home state. In turn, they are authorized to offer online courses in other states that are part of the SARA compact. Missouri is now a part of this compact, so students in any of SARA’s member states may take Truman online classes.
Where is Truman approved to operate online courses?
Texas Residents: Texas statutes require prominent posting of the following information:
Truman State University is not regulated in Texas Chapter 132 of the Texas Education Code Accreditation bodies associated with Truman academic programs can be found here. For complaints contact Dr. Kevin Minch, Director of the Institute for Academic Outreach, 660-785-5384.
Truman is currently authorized to offer courses in Texas, but outside of the SARA framework.
Why can Truman offer online courses in some states and not others?
Most states have their own regulations regarding online courses. These rules are mainly designed to identify providers so that the state can better handle concerns about programs when they arise. However, as the market for online education has expanded (particularly in the for-profit sector), regulations by individual states have become more and more elaborate. In some states the regulatory burden is simply too high to meet when only one or two students from a given state is taking a class. These states tend to charge significant licensing fees, or require detailed licensing reviews, which make it challenging for smaller public institutions to meet the requirements in a cost-effective manner. In Truman’s case, we’ve elected to defer licensing in those states to avoid having to pass these significant costs on to the consumer.
Additionally, in October 2010, the US Department of Education issued a mandate that all universities receiving Federal aid must be registered/licensed in all states in which they “operate.” Each state has its own definition of “operation” – ranging from offering a class to a resident of that state, to advertising in that state, to having supervised internships in that state. Because the inconsistency of these regulations across states was so significant, the new mandate was initially deferred to 2014. It was subsequently overturned by federal courts on procedural grounds. However, most observers expect the regulation to return, reworded, in the not-too-distant future.
The bottom line is this:
“Truman’s approval in some states and not in others is not a quality issue – it’s a bureaucracy issue.”
What happens if I enroll in a Truman online course and I’m not from an approved state/SARA member state?
It is important that the educational consumer understand that Truman will not seek to verify the physical location from which you are taking an online course. We recognize that some students may have a permanent residence in one state, but temporarily reside in other states for purposes of work or education. This page is designed to provide the consumer with the necessary information to make an informed choice about where they find their educational opportunities on the web. It is ultimately your choice from whom you seek to learn. However, students should be aware that Truman is committed to making all possible good faith efforts to comply with state and federal licensure laws. If you are a student from a state that does not recognize online classes from Truman, that state may deem our provision of a course to you to be in violation of their laws or regulations. Thus, that state could deny you the ability to use a class for purposes of licensure, satisfying continuing education requirements, transfer of credit to a university within that state, or other conceivable honors, certifications, and licenses tied to academic credit or professional development. It is the responsibility of the student to be certain that the classes they are taking will be applicable for the uses for which they are intended.
Do Truman transcripts identify online courses?
The Truman schedule of classes identifies those courses which are taught online. However, Truman transcripts merely identify the course. No distinction is made as to whether the course is offered in a traditional classroom setting or online. That said, syllabi for certain courses are often available online and a university you are attempting to transfer credit to could request a copy of the transcript. We strongly recommend students be transparent with institutions they apply to if they are asked to clarify whether a course was or was not offered online.
This seems strange. I thought the Internet was about opening-up information to the world, not creating artificial borders. Who do I complain to?
There are several professional organizations already organizing to oppose these laws. However, you can write to your state representative, assemblyperson, or senator to register your concerns about regulations in your own state. On the federal level, several members of Congress are already working to oppose increasingly onerous federal regulations in this area. You might share your thoughts with them as well. In principle, we support the notion of quality assurance regulations for online education. There are numerous providers who do not take the necessary steps to ensure a quality experience for their students. Regional accrediting bodies – such as our own Higher Learning Commission – already spend a significant amount of time ensuring that colleges and universities are prepared to offer online courses and programs, and that they meet standards of continuous improvement. Where problems in regulations exist, they exist in their lack of uniformity across states, not in the intent to ensure quality. We support broadened access to learning, wherever it can be achieved.
Who can I contact if I have more questions about whether I can/should take online classes from Truman?
Feel free to contact the Institute of Academic Outreach at (660) 785-5384 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who accredits your academic programs?
Truman State University has been accredited since 1914 by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Truman has maintained full accreditation for all of its programs through the years since then. Various agencies also fully accredit specific programs. They are:
Contact the Higher Learning Commission at http://www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org or (312) 263-0456.