Can a Clock-Hour Program Offer a Portion Of Its Classes Via Distance Learning Or Online?

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This guidance is not award-year-specific and applies across award years.

Scenario: We have a clock-hour culinary arts program that would like to teach some of their courses online.

Answer: Yes. Institutions are permitted to offer clock-hour programs both through correspondence or distance education. However, institutions offering clock-hour programs using distance education continue to be subject to the general requirements in the definition of ‘‘distance education,’’ which requires regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors.

Effective July 1, 2021, under 34 CFR 600.2, the definition of "clock hour" is amended. In distance education, a clock hour is 50 to 60 minutes in a 60-minute period of attendance in:

A clock hour in a distance education program does not meet the requirements of this definition if it does not meet all accrediting agency and state requirements or if it exceeds an agency’s or state’s restrictions on the number of clock hours in a program that may be offered through distance education. Also, an institution must be capable of monitoring a student’s attendance in 50 out of 60 minutes for each clock hour under this definition.

You will also want to clear your academic program's eligibility with both your responsible accrediting and state agency, as well as with your ED School Participation Division representative. Reference the September 2, 2020 Federal Register, p. 54752 and Volume 2, Chapter 2 of the FSA Handbook.

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