[caption id="attachment_58796" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="A proposed federal rule could cripple many online education programs. "][/caption]

Colleges that offer online instruction nationwide would have to get approval from every state in which they operate, or those online courses could be shut down, after the Education Department (ED) proposed a controversial rule that has drawn the ire of educators and distance-education organizations.

The regulation, known as the state-authorization rule, is scheduled to take effect July 1.

It would force colleges and universities that receive federal...

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