.edu registrars, requirements and history
.edu is a top level domain (TLD) commonly used by institutions of higher learning based in the United States. The domain was first introduced back in January 1985. The first registrations under the new TLD occurred in April 1985, with Columbia University and Purdue University being among the first registrants.
Administration of the .edu top level domain was the responsibility of Network Solutions, which offered free registration for educational institutions. Responsibility for managing the TLD changed in 2001, when the U.S. Department of Commerce entered into an agreement with Educase, a non profit association whose mission is to encourage the use of information technology in the educational world.
The .edu TLD always had various registration restrictions. Until 2001, educational institutions from anywhere in the world could register and use an .edu TLD, however the vast majority of registrations came from American institutions. In 1993, a new rule was added stipulating that only colleges and universities that offer four year programs could register a domain under this TLD. Prior to 2001, enforcement of the registration restrictions was quite lax, which resulted in many entities obtaining an .edu domain even if they weren't eligible for one.
Since October 2001, only accredited institutions of higher learning that are located and registered in the United States may register a domain under the .edu TLD. An institution may only register one domain name. Those who have obtained an .edu domain name prior to 2001 are allowed to keep using it even if they don't meet the current eligibility criteria.