Bipartisan Group of Attorneys General Seeks to Increase Consumer Protections for Distance Education Students

  • A bipartisan group of 25 AGs, led by Maryland AG Brian Frosh, sent a letter to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (“NC-SARA”)—which oversees reciprocity agreements joined by 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and sets standards and policies for participating institutions—urging it to institute stronger consumer protection policies for students enrolled in postsecondary distance education institutions.
  • The letter argues that NC-SARA’s prohibition on member states’ enforcement of their education-specific consumer protection laws against out-of-state institutions hampers the ability of AGs to effectively protect consumers from unscrupulous actors and cites multiple examples of misconduct by for-profit institutions, including false and fraudulent recruitment and enrollment practices. The letter notes that NC-SARA’s policies impact over 3 million students enrolled in nearly 2,300 institutions, and recommends multiple changes to these policies to strengthen protections for these students, including requiring participating institutions to attest that they comply with all consumer protection laws and to self-report any government investigations, among other things.
  • The AGs also ask NC-SARA to reconstitute its board of directors to include a majority of member states and territories, as well as individuals with consumer protection expertise such as state AGs.