Responses Last Confirmed:

District of Columbia Higher Education Licensure Commission

Agency Contact

Angela H. Lee
202-724-2905
Angela.Lee@dc.gov

Additional Contact

Jocelyn Harris
Topic

1: Important Agency Information to Note

a.
Provide any important information about your agency.

No response provided

Topic

2: Types of Educational Providers Authorized

a.
Indicate the types of institutions that your agency authorizes. Please provide a short explanation of any ambiguity in the comment section below.

_X__ Public, in-state degree granting institutions (for purposes of SARA and Veterans education only)
_X__ Public, out-of-state degree granting institutions   
_X__ Private, in-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions  
_X__ Private, out-of-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions  
_X__ Private, in-state, for-profit degree granting institutions 
_X__ Private, out-of-state, for-profit degree granting institutions 
_X__ Public, in-state, non-degree granting institutions 
_X__ Public, out-of-state, non-degree granting institutions 
_X__ Non-degree, not-for profit institutions 
_X__ Non-degree, for-profit institutions 
_X__ Religious institutions 
____ Tribally-controlled institutions 
____ Federal Institutions 
____ Municipal institutions 

b.
Does your agency authorize specific academic programs offered by institutions, only institutions themselves, or both?

_____Institution  _____Program __X__Both

c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

3: Accreditation

a.
Is accreditation required for an institution to be authorized in your state?

Yes and No

b.
If yes, please check all that apply as appropriate.

Accreditation Required for: 
_X__ Public, out-of-state degree granting institutions   
_X__ Private, in-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions  
_X__ Private, out-of-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions  
_X__ Private, in-state, for-profit degree granting institutions 
_X__ Private, out-of-state, for-profit degree granting institutions 
_X__ Public, in-state, non-degree granting institutions 
_X__ Public, out-of-state, non-degree granting institutions 
____ Non-degree, not-for profit institutions 
____ Non-degree, for-profit institutions 
_X__ Religious institutions 
____ Tribally-controlled institutions 
____ Federal Institutions 
____ Municipal institutions 

c.
Clarifying comments:

Non-degree institutions are not required to be accredited, unless accreditation is required by the respective industry.  Degree granting institutions that are new (provisional licensees) are not required to be accredited at time of application; however, they must seek accreditation by 3rd year of operation and be fully accredited by an accrediting agency/organization recognized by the US Department of Education by 6th year of operation. Applicants seeking Conditional Exemption must be fully accredited and may not have any conditions placed upon the accreditation.

Accreditation requirements will depend on the type of institution and instructional offerings.

Topic

4: Exemptions

a.
Are certain institutions or programs exempt by law or policy from your state authorization requirements?

D.C. Official Code §38-1310 describes the excluded and conditionally exempt institution types

b.
If yes, for what types of institutions? Which types of programs?

D.C. Official Code §38-1310 describes the excluded and conditionally exempt institution types

c.
Web link for exemptions.
d.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

5: Authorization of Distance Education

a.
Does your agency require purely online programs offered by out-of-state institutions to be authorized without regard to physical presence?

Yes

b.
If not, does your agency determine whether an institution must be authorized based on a physical presence (“operating”) standard?

N/A

c.
Does your agency require correspondence study programs to be authorized without regard to physical presence?

Yes

d.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

6: Physical Presence Policy

a.
If your agency uses a physical presence standard, how does your agency define physical presence?

“Physical Presence” – an institution has established one of the following in the District of Columbia: (a) A physical location for students to receive instruction; (b) An administrative office; (c) A physical site operated by or on behalf of the institution that provides information to students for the purpose of enrolling students or provides student support services; or (d) Office space for instructional and non-instructional staff.

b.
Web link for physical presence definition.
c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

7: Student Complaints - SARA Participating Institutions

a.
Please describe the process for handling complaints about SARA participating Institutions.

Pursuant to DC Official Code §38-1306(c)(4) complaints may be filed with the Higher Education Licensure Commission (HELC, Commission) against postsecondary educational institutions operating in the District of Columbia. Consumers who have experienced a violation of the SARA policies and procedures should complete a form and submit all supporting documents. Complainants should exhaust the institution’s grievance process prior to filing a complaint with the Commission.

b.
Is the process handled all within your agency or do you divide consumer protection and student complaint duties dependent on the type of institution (Public, Private, Technical, etc.)?

within our agency

c.
Web link for student complaints – SARA participating institutions.
d.
Who is the contact person at your agency for receiving complaints?
  • Agency: DC Higher Education Licensure Commission
  • Address: 1050 First Street, NE Fifth Floor, Washington, DC 20002
  • Email: osse.elcmail@dc.gov
  • Phone: 202-481-3951
e.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

8: Student Complaints - Non-SARA Participating Institutions

a.
Please describe the process for handling complaints about out-of-state postsecondary institutions or programs?

Pursuant to DC Official Code §38-1306(c)(4) complaints may be filed with the Higher Education Licensure Commission (HELC, Commission) against postsecondary educational institutions operating in the District of Columbia. Consumers who have experienced a violation of the HELC statute or regulations should complete a form and submit all supporting documents. Complainants should exhaust the institution’s grievance process prior to filing a complaint with the Commission.

b.
Is the process handled all within your agency or do you divide consumer protection and student complaint duties dependent on the type of institution (Public, Private, Technical, etc.)?

Violations of Commission rules are handled internally.  Violation of other District rules may also be addressed by respective other mission based agencies (i.e. violations of Human Rights Laws, Department of Health codes, Zoning laws)

c.
Does this complaint process extend to institutions not authorized by the agency that may enroll residents of the state (such as explicitly distance education programs with no physical presence or exempt institutions)?

Yes

d.
Who is the contact person at your agency for receiving complaints?
Topic

9: Surety Bonds

a.
Does your state require a Surety Bond for authorized out-of-state institutions?

Yes

c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

10: Tuition Refund Policy

a.
Does your state have a Tuition Refund Policy Requirement?

Yes

b.
If yes, for what types of institutions?

Non-Degree granting institutions

Degree granting institutions

c.
Web link for tuition refund policy.

DCMR 8119 Non-Degree granting institutions

DCMR 8004, 8006, & 8016 Degree granting institutions

d.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

11: Student Tuition Recovery Fund

a.
Does your state have a Student Tuition Recovery Fund (or similar fund for school closure)?

No

b.
If yes, for what types of institutions?

n/a

c.
Web link for student tuition recovery fund.

n/a

d.
Clarifying comments:

n/a

Topic

12: Reporting

a.
What kinds of information or data must an institution report to your agency as a condition for continued out-of-state authorization?

Annually, the Higher Education Licensure Commission (HELC, Commission) collects data on postsecondary education offered in the District of Columbia. The Commission seeks to gather information in the following areas: institutional characteristics, human and fiscal resources, prices, accreditation, enrollment, degrees and certificates conferred, student retention and financial aid. The submission of this data is a condition of continued approval to operate postsecondary educational programs in the District. 

b.
How frequently do institutions report data?

Annually

c.
Is this information published or shared publicly?

YES, it is subject to public disclosure

d.
Web link for reporting.

https://helc.osse.dc.gov/vPage/Annual-Data-Survey/107/71004 log-in credential is sent directly to active institutions POC only

e.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

13: Enforcement

a.
What are possible consequences of institutional non-compliance?

Refer to DC Official Code §38-1312

b.
Web link for enforcement information.
c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

14: Application Process

a.
Please provide a short description of the application process to obtain state authorization.
  1. Read the law and regulations that govern the type of institution you wish to operate (degree, non-degree, distance education). And, familiarize yourself with the relevant application form.
  2. Attend mandatory New Applicant Workshop (only if seeking provisional licensure; not required for conditional exemption applicants)
  3. Submit a complete application and required fees.
  4. Complete a site visit. (Required for all applicants that have a physical location in the District.)
  5. Appear before the Commission to respond to any questions the board has prior to their decision on the application. Meeting date will be provided.
c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

15: Fees Associated with Authorization

a.
Is there an application fee associated with the authorization process?

Yes

b.
If yes, what is the fee or fee schedule?

Please refer to the weblink

c.
Web link for fee information.
d.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

16: Records Retention

a.
When a school closes, what is the process your state uses to ensure that transcripts/records are kept available?

If a postsecondary educational institution licensed by or granted a conditional exemption the Commission, discontinues its operations, the chief administrative officer, by whatever title designated, of the institution shall cause to be filed with the Commission the original or legible true copies of all records of the institution specified by the Commission. The records deposited with the Commission shall include, at a minimum, the academic (and financial) records of each former student. The institution shall pay for the costs of the transfer of records to the Commission and for the costs of maintaining the records.

School Closure Form https://osse.dc.gov/node/1069172

b.
From what agency do students request their transcripts/records from a closed school?
c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

17: Additional Information

a.
Is there anything else about the authorization process in your state that we and others ought to know about?

NOTE:
At the time of the updates to this document on Feb. 18, 2021, in response to the COVID19 pandemic, all staff are working remotely; therefore, application materials and correspondence should be emailed to osse.elcmail@dc.gov.

Under normal circumstances, we prefer that all correspondence is sent to the general email osse.elcmail@dc.gov and that applications are mailed to:

District of Columbia Higher Education Licensure Commission
1050 First Street NE, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20002