OTAAG Oct 30, 2014

Adventures in Online Education Student Service

Caller (an interpretation of the essence of the conversation):  I’m interested in your online program.  But I’m out of state.  I’ve already filled out your application.  But I need to verify that you are federally accredited.  But I don’t really know much about that.  I just need to make sure you are accredited so I can defer my loans.  I already have a bachelor’s degree and a business certificate.  But I don’t want to pay my loans so I need them deferred.  But I want to take a program I’m interested in.  But I need to make sure I’m at least half-time.  What is half-time?  And is the tuition the same if I’m out of state?

Me: What state do you live in?

Caller: [State]

Me: Unfortunately we will not be enrolling students from that state in the spring because we are not authorized at this time.  That may change but at this time we cannot enroll students resident in [State].

Caller: Oh. Well when I call other schools what should I tell them so I can get enrolled and defer my loans?

Commentary: Honestly, I’ve been really frustrated by the state authorization requirements, believing they infringe on individual rights and access to higher education.  However, I was actually grateful I could use state authorization as an excuse to not enroll this student for the spring.  I didn’t dig deeply into her genuine interest in the online certificate program she mentioned, but her need to defer her loans was certainly a priority in our short conversation.  I did let her know that the authorization status for her state could change and she could call us back to check later.  I do hope her needs are met but I don’t think her true need is another educational credential.  Now I’m not sure what saddens me more – the state authorization restrictions or the desire to use enrollment in an online program as a means to loan deferral.  What do you think?

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