CPE Online Application and Renewal: Tips and Key Features

June 2011

Although CPE providers have been thrilled with the conversion from manual to online applications and renewals, many of the system’s finer points are easy to miss if you don’t know where to look.

Jeanetta Cothron, NASBA Regulatory Compliance Auditor, highlights some key tips for making the most of the new system:

Have a main contact. Providers on the National Registry should designate one person as their main organizational contact. The main contact will receive all of the updates about NASBA policies, including changes to the renewal process. If that contact changes, or his/ her information needs to be updated, NASBA must be notified.

“When there are changes in that contact person and we don’t know it, even for a short period of time, information falls through the cracks,” Cothron says. “The company may not get information about what’s happening with NASBA or the Registry, or within their state, and some of those changes are vital. They may even miss their renewal date, or other pertinent information about how to comply with the CPE Standards.”

New Website Markets Providers’ Courses: LearningMarket.org is now the source for Registry requirements and CPE Standards. When NASBA rolled out its new online-application system, it also launched a new website that is a portal for CPE providers and those interested in the Registry. Information and forms that were located on the NASBAtools.com website were transferred to the new Learning Market website, www.learningmarket.org, along with new information, forms and features. "And with that change came new capabilities that providers may not yet be aware of," says Cothron.

“Now our sponsors can access templates, such as ones that show what a compliant certificate of completion looks like, or what a course announcement looks like,” Cothron says. “There are also many other tools, as well as a marketing feature where sponsors can post videos about their organization. LearningMarket.org was created to provide powerful tools to help providers market themselves to those seeking CPE courses and access important items for their own use.”

Another new feature of the site is the robust library of resources. For example, providers can now find state requirements for all of NASBA’s 55 member boards without having to visit each of their websites.

“It’s a great starting point for our providers to research specific regulations and find what they need for different markets,” Cothron says.

Providers now have assigned account administrators. In the past, renewing accounts went to different staff members within NASBA’s compliance department. Under the new system, each provider has a designated contact person.

“With the new online system, providers are assigned a specific account manager, who will work with them on an ongoing basis to ensure they are receiving the maximum benefits of their relationship with NASBA,” Cothron says.

Approval is determined and granted at the organization level and not on a program-by-program basis. NASBA works with a provider to bring one program and its materials into compliance with the CPE Standards.  NASBA then expects the provider to apply the same methodology and documentation to all programs it designates to award NASBA-approved CPE credits.

“It’s important for our sponsors to know that they are approved as an organization and not on a program by program basis,” Cothron says.

Easier sponsor information updates. Under the Registry Forms and Applications tab on  LearningMarket.org, you can find a section called Membership Update Forms. There, sponsors can access an online form to update their contact information as well as submit any other necessary organization changes.

Notify NASBA of course delivery methods. Many sponsors have different delivery methods (group-live, group internet-based, self-study), but may not make NASBA aware of their formats. Each delivery method must be approved by NASBA in order to award NASBA-approved CPE credits. Sponsors can submit this information via an online form available on the Learning Market website as well.

Know the distinction between delivery methods. Just as NASBA needs to know the delivery methods each provider uses, it is important for providers to understand the various methods that are accepted. The CPE Standards offers four:

  • Group Live, which is the traditional classroom setting;
  • Group Internet-Based, where the students view course materials and a real-time instructor online;
  • Self-Study, which is an online or paper-based course completed by the learner with no instructor present; and
  • Independent Study, where a candidate contracts with a sponsor for a special project (an uncommon method that has yet to be accepted by most state boards).

The Desk-Audit process. As part of its renewal process, NASBA conducts random desk audits of sponsors. Following renewal, the sponsor will be notified if their organization has been selected for an audit, and they will be asked for a program list. Following that submission, a course will be chosen and the provider will submit appropriate documents to demonstrate that it is in compliance with the CPE Standards.

Cothron says. “And, if a sponsor is approved for multiple delivery methods, we will select one course for each of those delivery methods.”

Understand the relationship of CPE Standards to state CPE rules. The CPE Standards establish the framework for the development and administration of CPE programs. In addition, they describe the responsibilities of CPE providers. However, the ultimate determination on the acceptability of CPE credits resides with the respective state boards.

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