On July 1, 2020, revised United States Department of Education (USDE) regulations became effective, and one particular revised FINANCIAL AID REGULATION affects all undergraduate or graduate programs (including nursing) that lead to professional licensure and are eligible for any student financial assistance program authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. Please consult your office of institutional compliance before taking steps to address this regulatory requirement.

While the revision to 34 CFR 668.43 affects all undergraduate or graduate programs designed to meet educational requirements for a specific professional license or certification that is required for employment in an occupation, or that are advertised as meeting such requirements, nursing program leaders should be aware that the revision to 34 CFR 668.43 impacts their nursing programs since nursing is a licensed profession in every state, every U.S. Territory, and the District of Columbia.

What is the intent of this revision?

  • To inform and protect students by communicating state-level requirements for employment as a practical/vocational nurse, registered nurse, or advanced practice nurse before they invest their time, effort, and money in a nursing program.
  • To facilitate students knowing whether they are eligible for a nursing license in a particular state, a particular U.S. Territory, or the District of Columbia,.

Briefly, the revision requires an institution to:

  • Publish a list of the locations (e.g., states, U.S. Territories, District of Columbia) in which the institution has adequate information to know that its nursing program meets or does not meet the licensure or certification requirements, and publish a list of the locations (e.g., states, U.S. Territories, District of Columbia) in which the institution does not know whether its nursing program meets the licensure or certification requirements. These lists must account for all methods by which the program is delivered (e.g., face-to-face and distance education).
  • Disclose the lists to students at the time of their initial enrollment.
  • Disclose the lists to a student, if applicable, upon formal receipt of information from a student that the student’s location has changed to another state.

Regarding the published lists:

  • “The Department requires institutions to only advertise true and factual statements about their programs. While the Department does not preclude an institution from advertising a program for which it has not made a determination regarding the program’s alignment with State licensure or certification requirements, the Department expects that institutions will accurately and truthfully provide that information on the required disclosure.” 34 CFR 668.43(a)(5)(v) (p. 53)
  • “The regulation does not require an institution to make an independent determination about whether the program it offers meets the licensure or certification requirements; the regulation provides that an institution may disclose that it has not made a determination as to whether a program’s curriculum meets a State’s educational requirements for licensure or certification. Including that option provides sufficient flexibility so that an institution need not incur any additional burden.” 34 CFR 668.43(a)(5)(v) (p. 53)

Nursing licensure is complicated because there are multiple variables to be considered related to each applicant. It is not a one-size fits all. Disseminating inaccurate or outdated information does not help any student/graduate, and only the state regulatory agency for nursing is and should be the authoritative source for licensing information. However, a state regulatory agency for nursing can only share the requirements for a nursing license and cannot determine if a nursing program meets those requirements.

The most honest, realistic, and reasonable approach is a statement that the nursing program and institutional leaders know is factually accurate. A representative from the USDE agreed that statements such as the ones illustrated below may work, with the understanding that any statement must disclose accurate information that truthfully represents the location of students enrolled in that nursing program. The statements below are for illustration purposes only. One size does not fit all!

  • For nursing programs that have enrolled students located in only one state:

The [program type] nursing program at XXX College meets the state education requirements for a [level of licensure] nursing license in the state of AAA (e.g., Georgia). XXX College has not determined if the [program type] nursing program at XXX College meets the state education requirements in any other state, any U.S. Territory, or the District of Columbia.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has resources that may be helpful.

  • Link to every Nursing Practice Act.
  • Link to FAQs regarding the impact of 34 CFR 668.43 on nursing programs.
  • Link to the webpage for every State Regulatory Agency for Nursing.
  • For nursing programs close to one or more state borders that have enrolled students located in two states:

The [program type] nursing program at XXX College meets the state education requirements for a [level of licensure] nursing license in the states of AAA and BBB (e.g., Virginia and Maryland) and the District of Columbia. XXX College has not determined if the [program type] nursing program at XXX College meets the state education requirements in any other state or any U.S. Territory. Contact the state regulatory agency for nursing in any other state for which this information is needed.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has resources that may be helpful.

  • Link to every Nursing Practice Act.
  • Link to FAQs regarding the impact of 34 CFR 668.43 on nursing programs.
  • Link to the webpage of every State Regulatory Agency for Nursing.
  • For nursing programs that are in multiple states and/or have enrolled students located in multiple states:

The [program type] nursing program at XXX College meets the state education requirements for a [level of licensure] nursing license in the states of AAA, BBB, CCC, and DDD (e.g., Wisconsin, North Dakota, Michigan, and Florida). XXX College has not determined if the [program type] nursing program at XXX College meets the state education requirements in any other state, any U.S. Territory, or the District of Columbia. Contact the state regulatory agency for nursing in any other state for which this information is needed.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has resources that may be helpful.

  • Link to every Nursing Practice Act.
  • Link to FAQs regarding the impact of 34 CFR 668.43 on nursing programs.
  • Link to the webpage of every State Regulatory Agency for Nursing.

The revised regulations do not apply to international programs.