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The Office of Instructional Technology (OIT)

Student Identification

Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 - Section/paragraph 602.17(g) requires institutions that offer distance education or correspondence education to have processes in place through which the institution establishes that the student who registers in a distance education or correspondence education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the academic credit. The agency meets this requirement if it—

(1) Requires institutions to verify the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework by using, at the option of the institution, methods such as—

(i) A secure login and pass code;
(ii) Proctored examinations; and
(iii) New or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identity; and

(2) Makes clear in writing that institutions must use processes that protect student privacy and notify students of any projected additional student charges associated with verification of student identity at the time of registration or enrollment.

However in a 2014 audit of the act by the Department of Education Inspector General, it is noted that " ...the regulations and guidance as they relate to verifying the identity of distance education students and the definition of attendance do not sufficiently mitigate the risks of fraud, abuse, and noncompliance."  The inspector general noted specifically that " ... the reliability of logins and passcodes depends on the processes that schools use to verify the identity before issuing the passcodes and on students' care in safekeepings such creditials. A secure login and passcode ensure only that someone logging in to a course is using the same login and passcode assigned to a person who enrolled. A secure login and passcode do not ensure that the person is enrolling under a valid name and intends to obtain an education." The inspector general provided the following guidance.  "The regulation should be clarified and strengthened so that schools are required to use current best practices in identity verification methods to mitigate the risk of student identity fraud.?

In response to HEOA requirements and the inspector general recommendation, the Center for Extended Learning has initiated research on various student authentications systems.  Below are product and information brochures from vendors currently being reviewed:






Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008

Title IV of the Higher Education Act Programs: Additional Safeguards Are Needed to Help Mitigate the Risks That Are Unique to the Distance Education Environment

Excerpt of Department of Education Inspector General Report 2014

University Professional and Continuing Education Association Center for Research and Consulting 2013 Student Authentication and Online Proctoring Report\

Online Integrity - Student Authentication