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State Authorization for Distance (Online) Education Programs and Students

(Current as of 7/7/15)

Notice for applicants from outside the State of Oregon

If you are from outside the State of Oregon and you are interested in applying to or want to enroll in an online degree, certificate program or individual online course at Portland State University, it is important to check the list below to make sure authorization in your state of residence is verified. 


In October 2010, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released the 'State Authorization' regulations. These regulations specifically include distance education (online learning, correspondence courses, etc). They require all institutions of higher education to seek authorization in every state (and territory) in which they “operate” distance education programs in order to maintain eligibility for federal financial aid. Authorization (sometimes referred to as “registration,” “licensure,” “approval,” etc.) indicates that certain minimum standards have been met by the institution under the laws and regulations of that state.

The following is the most pertinent passage of the state authorization rule:

"If an institution is offering postsecondary education through distance or correspondence education to students in a State in which it is not physically located or in which it is otherwise subject to State jurisdiction as determined by the State, the institution must meet any State requirements for it to be legally offering postsecondary distance or correspondence education in that State. An institution must be able to document to the Secretary the State's approval upon request" (Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1001 and 1002).

In other words, in order to offer online educational opportunities to other states' residents, PSU must comply with states' policies for distance education and be able to demonstrate compliance upon request. If PSU were to be found not in compliance, then all students enrolled at PSU would not be allowed to use Title IV, HEA program funds (federal financial aid & grants) to pay for their education. 

State Authorization

In April 2015, Portland State was authorized by of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA).  As a result, Portland State will provide broader access to students and have established comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. Portland State’s participation in NC-SARA makes it easier for students to take online courses offered by Portland State in other NC-SARA member states. 


Portland State University seeks to resolve student concerns in an efficient, fair and amicable manner. Students are encouraged to pursue PSU's internal grievance procedures to address any concerns before contacting external sources for resolution.  

Contact information for filing complaints internally is provided below:

  • Specific course or program issues: Contact first the course instructor. If the issue is unresolved, contact the academic department offering the course or program. All academic departments can be found via the Undergraduate Programs A-Z site or the Graduate Programs A-Z site
  • Admissions Issues (admissions eligibility and process): Contact the office of Admissions at 503.725.3511 or visit the Admissions website.
  • Registration & Records Issues (residency decisions, registration, petition processes, records and transcript issues, degree requirements, and veteran's services): Contact Registration & Records at 503.725.3511 or visit the Registrar's website.
  • Money Matters (billing, tuition/fee payments); Contact University Financial Services at 503.725.3440 or visit the University Financial Services website.
  • Scholarships and Financial Aid Issues (loans, scholarships, grants): Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at 503.725.3461 or visit the Financial Aid website.
  • Student Concerns (ADA, Student Conduct, Well being, Where to Start): Contact the Dean of Student Life at 503.725.4422 or visit the Dean of Student Life's website.

If grievances are not satisfactorily resolved after an internal attempt by the University, a complaint may be filed with an agency in the student’s state of residence. 

Please click on your state to be connected to the contact form should you have a complaint about Portland State University:

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