Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (10/10/2001)

Internet Equity and Education Act of 2001 - Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) to exempt courses offered through telecommunications from certain limitations on student financial assistance with respect to correspondence courses. (Such limitations include the 50-percent rule, requiring that an institution provide at least 50 percent of its instruction in person.) Allows such exemption if the institution of higher education (IHE) offering such course through telecommunications: (1) is participating in the guaranteed or the direct student loan program; and (2) has a cohort default rate of less than ten percent for each of the three most recent fiscal years for which data are available; and (3) has notified the Secretary of Education of its election to qualify for such exemption, and then has not been notified by the Secretary that such election would pose a significant risk to Federal funds under HEA title IV (Student Assistance).

(Sec. 3) Defines a week of instruction, with respect to an academic year for HEA student aid programs, as one in which at least one day of regularly scheduled instruction or examinations occurs, or at least one day of study for final examinations occurs after the last scheduled day of classes. (Such revised definition eliminates a 12-hour rule requiring students to spend at least 12 hours a week in class if enrolled in courses that are not on a semester, trimester, or quarter system.) Requires an IHE to notify the Secretary if it plans to offer an eligible program of instruction of less than 12 hours of regularly scheduled instruction, examinations, or preparation for examinations for a week of instructional time (for educational programs using credit hours, but not using a semester, trimester, or quarter system).

(Sec. 4) Revises a prohibition, for IHEs that participate in HEA student assistance programs, against making incentive payments based on success in securing enrollments or financial aid to any person or entity engaged in student recruiting or admission activities, or making decisions regarding the award of student financial assistance. Prohibits such payments only if they are: (1) based directly on such success; and (2) made to a person or entity directly engaged in such activities. Exempts from such prohibition: (1) recruitment of foreign students not eligible to receive Federal student assistance (as does current law); (2) incentive payments under any contract with a third-party service provider with no control over eligibility for admission or enrollment or awarding of financial aid at the IHE, if no employee of that provider is given an incentive payment based directly on success in securing enrollments or financial aid; (3) incentive payments to persons or entities for success in securing (or activities leading to) agreements, contracts, or commitments from employers to provide financial support for enrollment of their employees in an IHE; and (4) persons receiving fixed compensation paid regularly for services and adjusted no more frequently than every six months.

(Sec. 5) Requires certain information to be provided to the Secretary by IHEs that have: (1) notified the Secretary of their election to qualify for an exception to a limitation on course of study or to the 50 percent limitation on instruction that is not in person; (2) notified the Secretary of plans to offer an eligible program of instruction of less than 12 hours; or (3) contracts with outside parties for delivery of distance education programs or programs offered in nontraditional formats or for securing enrollment of students.

Directs the Secretary to evaluate and report on: (1) the effect of this Act on IHE ability to provide distance learning opportunities and on program integrity; (2) specified types of changes with respect to distance education or correspondence courses at IHEs subject to information requirements under this Act; (3) claims of inducements to participate in student financial aid programs, HEA violations, and Federal actions against violators; and (4) any further revisions to accommodate nontraditional educational opportunities in Federal student assistance programs while ensuring program integrity.

(Sec. 6) Authorizes funds to be made available for the Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnerships program from the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education if for any fiscal year funds are not appropriated for such program.