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Boulder, Colorado – The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has been awarded grants totaling $2.8 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and from Lumina Foundation to complete development of the Interstate Passport – a new transfer framework that seeks to improve graduation rates, shorten time to degree, and save students money.

Boulder, CO — The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has released two reports about a pilot project that shared data between four states to provide a clearer picture about education and employment outcomes as individuals move between states for schooling and work. The project, known as the Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange (MLDE), involved Hawai‘i, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Boulder, Colorado – Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Washington have been approved by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) as the first states in the compact’s region to become members of the WICHE State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (W-SARA). Combined, these states have 258 accredited higher education institutions. These states join Indiana and North Dakota, which were approved by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) in February and April, respectively. SARA is a nationwide initiative of states that will make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and make it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education. The effort is funded by a $2.3 million grant from Lumina Foundation.

Boulder, CO — A comprehensive framework for redesigning state financial aid programs has been proposed in a concept paper from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). The report, which was one among many commissioned by Lumina Foundation to consider comprehensive financial aid reform, makes a series of proposals to align governmental and institutional policies and leverage financial resources to promote the greatest possible access, affordability, and eventual success in attaining higher education.

Boulder, Colorado — Russ Poulin has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education as a representative for upcoming negotiated rulemaking sessions to review proposed regulations concerning program integrity and improvement issues for the Federal Student Aid programs. Poulin serves as interim co-executive director and deputy director, research and analysis for WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies). He and Marshall Hill, who has previously served on three such rulemaking sessions, will represent the field of distance education in the process.

Boulder, CO – The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has just launched the Interstate Passport, a new block transfer framework based on learning outcomes, not courses and credits. Sixteen institutions in four states involved in the pilot project – Hawai‘i, North Dakota, Oregon, and Utah – are signatories to the Interstate Passport Agreement. Other WICHE states and institutions can now apply for Passport status. The goal of the initiative is to create a more friction free pathway for students to transfer their general education or liberal arts core from institutions in one state to those in another. In recent years, after realizing that swirling was common, states have moved to provide uniform transfer opportunities within states. The Passport is designed to extend these strategies to the entire western region of states and beyond. The project is poised to address quality issues as well as to increase completion rates for the nation.