Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Legislation Proposed to Expand Financial Aid to Distance Education Students

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Legislation Proposed to Expand Financial Aid to Distance Education Students

Article excerpt

Federal legislation may assist colleges that offer distance education to make federal financial aid available to more of their students in the future. The Internet Equity and Education Act of 2001, approved by the House Education and the Workforce Committee late last summer, would loosen the previous requirement that at least 50% of courses be taught in a classroom in order for a college to participate in federal aid programs.

The policy proposed by the committee calls for the elimination of the 50% rule if a college is already participating in student loan programs with a successful 3-year default rate of less than 10%. It also allows greater flexibility regarding attendance in distance learning courses by requiring the same set of attendance criteria for nontraditional programs as for traditional semester-long courses. The bill follows a report released last fall from the Web-Based Education Commission encouraging additional support for distance education. The Commission's sentiments were echoed by Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, chair of the House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness: "We need to make changes in order to provide the benefits of distance education programs, both to students and to an economy that depends upon a highly educated and trained workforce" (p. 3).

Although community college leaders appear initially positive about the legislation to expand distance learning options, they are also interested in seeing the proposed bill expanded to exempt more community colleges. They are especially interested in finding a more equitable policy for colleges that do not participate in student loan programs or issue very few loans. …

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