Five Postsecondary Institutions Added to Distance Education Program

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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. …