Online Higher Ed Leaders Tackle Cost Containment, Student Debt

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Presidents’ Forum and United States Distance Learning Association to host October 3 summit exploring state reciprocity as a pathway to solving student financial challenges.

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With support from the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Forum, in collaboration with the Council of State Governments, is exploring the development of a voluntary interstate agreement

What: “Debt & Disillusionment: Extending the Economic Advantages of Online Learning”, a joint summit of the Presidents’ Forum and the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA).

When: October 3, 2012, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Where: Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC

Who: Higher education and policy leaders; nonprofit advocacy organizations dedicated to higher education and regulatory reform, including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education, New America Foundation, CAEL and host of others.

Why: Given the justifiable recent focus on the rising cost of higher education as a considerable roadblock to degree completion, The Presidents’ Forum, in partnership with the United States Distance Learning Association, seeks to explore the issue of higher education cost containment to current and prospective learners with attention to the benefits offered by a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA).

At present, there is no alternative for institutions providing distance learning other than to apply for state authorization to as many as 54 states and territories. SARA offers a process that not only supports the nation in its efforts to increase the education attainment of its citizens, but makes applying for state authorization more efficient, effective, and uniform. All the while achieving a lesser financial cost for the states and institutions, and thereby the students they both serve.

Panel discussions will cover topics such as:

  •     An introduction to "SARA"
  •     Advancing the goals for degree attainment through reciprocity and cost containment
  •     Personalized learning assessment and the technology and tools needed to reduce the cost of degree attainment
  •     Advancing public policy that supports cost containment, educational innovation and degree acquisition

The Presidents’ Forum is a leading advocate on issues of importance to online higher education. In 2011, the Forum was on the forefront of the state authorization issue and challenged state regulators on changes to Title IV rules which would have sharply curbed access to high quality, accredited online college education.

With support from the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Forum, in collaboration with the Council of State Governments, is exploring the development of a voluntary interstate agreement, which it contends is a pathway to cost containment, student success, degree completion and strong consumer protection.

About The Presidents’ Forum
The Presidents’ Forum (, established in 2004, is a collaboration of accredited, national, adult-serving institutions and programs which have embraced the power and potential of online education. The Mission of the Presidents' Forum is to advance the recognition of innovative practice and excellence in online learning. This is accomplished by providing a venue for leaders in higher education and stakeholders to share their knowledge and learn from others' best practices.

About the United States Distance Learning Association
The United States Distance Learning Association ( was the first nonprofit Distance Learning association in the United States to support Distance Learning research, development and praxis across the complete arena of education, training and communications. In 1987, the USDLA was founded on the premise of creating a powerful alliance to meet the burgeoning education and training needs of learning communities via new concepts of the fusion of communication technologies with learning in broad multidiscipline applications. USDLA through its mission of supporting the development and application of distance learning focuses on all legislation impacting the Distance Learning community and its varied constituencies.

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Mike Lesczinski
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