Five Postsecondary Institutions
Added to Distance Education Program Five additional postsecondary education institutions have been selected to participate in the Distance Education Demonstration program, bringing the total number of institutions, systems and consortia of institutions admitted to the program to 29 in 23 states and the District of Columbia, announced Dr. Roderick Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education, recently.
The selection of these five new participants will allow the Education Department to broaden the scope of its examination of issues related to the use of federal financial aid by distance education students, particularly at institutions that provide their curricula exclusively via distance learning.
“The new participants enhance the diversity of the types of institutions in the program, provide education to rural students without access to traditional campuses and expand the distance education curricula to include nursing, court reporting and engineering,” Paige said.
Since 1995, enrollment in distance education courses has nearly doubled to about 3.1 million students, according to the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report “Distance Education at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions 2000-2001.”
According to the report, more than half (56 percent) of the nation’s two- and four-year degree-granting institutions offered distance education courses in the 2000-2001 academic year. Of these, 34 percent offer degree or certificate programs totally by distance education.
However, 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.
For example, the program provides waivers of the statutory rule that bars institutions that enroll 50 percent or more of their students in distance education programs or that offer 50 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. Three of the new participants provide education and training exclusively via telecommunications technologies.
The Distance Education Demonstration program has been in existence since the initial group of participants entered the program in 1999. The projects are expected to continue through the 2004-2005 academic year when Congress is expected to consider comprehensive changes to the Higher Education Act.
The five new participants selected in the Distance Education Demonstration program are: the College of Court Reporting Inc., Hobart, Ind.; Graceland University, Lamoni, Iowa; Jones International University Ltd., Englewood, Colo.; National Technological University Inc., Minneapolis; and Northcentral University, Prescott, Ariz.
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