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State Authorization for Distance (Online) Education Programs and Students

(Current as of 6/3/15)

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 Approval

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

PSU has received authorization or is exempt from authorization in all US states except those mentioned below. Residents from one of the states where PSU has decided not to submit a request for authorization due to high and restrictive fees, should not submit an application for admission to the University. We advise students residing in Arkansas not to enroll in distance education classes at Portland State University.

PSU has not submitted requests for authorization from the following states:

  • Arkansas

PSU is currently in the process of obtaining authorization to offer online education in Maryland.


Portland State University desires to resolve student grievances, complaints and concerns in an efficient, fair and amicable manner. Complaints regarding any aspect of Portland State University operations should be filed internally to Portland State University authorities first. Contact information for filing complaints internally is provided below:

However, if an issue cannot be resolved internally, you may file a complaint with your State. The Student Complaint Information by State and Agency (pdf) provides links to and/or information about the Complaint Process for each state education agency. Federal regulations require us to provide prospective and current students with contact information for filing complaints with the appropriate agency in the state where the student resides. 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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Florida - Georgia - Hawaii - Idaho - Illinois - Indiana - Iowa - Kansas - Kentucky - Louisiana - Maine
Maryland - Massachusetts - Michigan - Minnesota - Mississippi - Missouri - Montana - Nebraska
Nevada - New Hampshire - New Jersey - New Mexico - New York - North Carolina - North Dakota
Ohio - Oklahoma - Oregon - Pennsylvania - Rhode Island - South Carolina - South Dakota
Tennessee - Texas - Utah - Vermont - Virginia - Washington - West Virginia - Wisconsin - Wyoming