Responses Last Confirmed:

Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission

Agency Contact

Veronica Dujon
503-947-5744
veronica.dujon@state.or.us

Additional Contact

Sean Pollack
503-947-5925

Secretary of State Contact

Shemia Fagan
503-986-1523
oregon.sos@oregon.gov
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.

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

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

____ Institution   __X___ Program   _____ Both

c.
Clarifying comments:

All degree-granting private post-secondary institutions offering academic programs in Oregon, or to Oregon students from outside the state, must be approved by the HECC Office of Degree Authorization. Any business that offers a training program, including online education, that prepares an individual to enter a licensed occupation in the State of Oregon must first apply for a private career school license with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). A tribally-controlled institution would not be subject to ODA or PCS jurisdiction, but would most likely seek authorization or licensure, at least initially, in order to establish legitimacy vis-á-vis external institutions and governments.

The Office of Degree Authorization approves academic programs offered by the institutions and their corresponding placement programs in the state. The approval is for the degree program with or without placement, or with placement alone, not the institution as a whole. Approval letters list degree programs approved with and without placement, and are valid for a period of two years.

Topic

3: Accreditation

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

Accreditation by an accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education is a requirement for authorization of degree-granting institutions but not for licensure of non-degree granting institutions.

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

c.
Clarifying comments:

Accreditation is a requirement for authorization of degree-granting institutions but not for licensure of non-degree granting institutions.

  • Regional or National accreditation recognized by the United States Department of Education is required for degree program authorization of out-of-state schools.
  • The HECC does not require regional accreditation as a pre-condition for full authorization of degree-granting institutions located in Oregon because ODA has a thorough review and evaluation process in place.
  • We have a number of small religious or narrowly focused arts degree programs in the state that are unaccredited and ODA-approved.

Some of our rules specifically cite Regional Accreditation as the acceptable standard; however, we are currently re-assessing the references to accreditation in our rules for consistency, and changes may be proposed in the near future.

  • Accreditation by a USDOE-recognized accreditor is acceptable in most cases.
  • Programmatic accreditation may be required for authorization if the state licensing board requires graduation from a degree program with programmatic accreditation.
Topic

4: Exemptions

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

For degree-granting institutions, an exemption granted to some religious institutions under ORS 348.604 signifies that the state of Oregon recognizes that the institution is offering a very narrow range of theological or religious degrees that are exempt from state oversight.  [https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/348.604]                      

For non-degree institutions, criteria for exemptions are listed in ORS 345.015 [https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/345.015].  If an institution believes they qualify for an exemption, they should call our office and discuss it with the Deputy Director to verify they do indeed qualify for an exemption.  Many times an institution believes they should be exempt, when in fact they are not.

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

No response provided

c.
Web link for exemptions.

No response provided

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?

No response provided

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

Yes

d.
Clarifying comments:

For degree-granting institutions, all actions including online instruction offered to Oregon students must be authorized either through direct authorization by the ODA or participation in an interstate reciprocity agreement per ORS 348.606.

For non-degree granting institutions, all actions including online instruction offered to Oregon students must be licensed through the HECC unless approved for an exemption through ORS 348.015.

Topic

6: Physical Presence Policy

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

There are different standards/rules depending on whether institution is degree-granting or non-degree granting.

b.
Web link for physical presence definition.

For degree-granting institutions, OAR 583-030-0015 (22):  click here

For non-degree granting institutions, OAR 581-045-0006 (13) (b): https://secure.sos.state.or.us/oard/viewSingleRule.action?ruleVrsnRsn=180941

c.
Clarifying comments:

For non-degree granting institutions, a physical presence is established when the institution maintains an office within the state, any instructional staff conduct instructional activities from within the state or any part of the instructional program is conducted by or in the state, any agents operate within the state, or any Oregon specific advertising is done for or by the institution [OAR 715-045-0006 (13) (b)].

Topic

7: Student Complaints - SARA Participating Institutions

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

Key contacts for types of institutions encourage the student to exhaust all institutional resources before filing a complaint. Upon submission, a written complaint is distributed to the key staff person for investigation. The ODA works with institutions and the state regulator agency to ensure complaints from students are resolved.

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.)?

There is a separate complaint process for institutions that are exempted from authorization by the HECC or that participate in an interstate reciprocity agreement.

c.
Web link for student complaints – SARA participating institutions.
d.
Who is the contact person at your agency for receiving complaints?

Contact Name: Sean Pollack

Title: Deputy Director, APA

Agency: Higher Education Coordinating Commission

Address: 3225 25th St. SE, Salem, OR 97302

Email: sean.pollack@state.or.us

Phone: 503-947-5925

URL: https://www.oregon.gov/highered/institutions-programs/private/Pages/private-postsecondary-HECC-role.aspx

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?

Key contacts for types of institutions encourage the student to exhaust all institutional resources before filing a complaint. Upon submission, a written complaint is distributed to the key staff person for investigation. The ODA works with institutions and the state regulator agency to ensure complaints from students are resolved.

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.)?

The process for handling complaints is has been refined towards a centralized process. Key contacts for types of institutions encourage the student to exhaust all institutional resources before filing a complaint. Upon submission, a written complaint is distributed to the key staff person for investigation.

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. There is a separate complaint process for institutions that are exempted from authorization by the HECC or that participate in an interstate reciprocity agreement.

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

Contact Name: Sean Pollack

Title: Deputy Director, APA

Agency: Higher Education Coordinating Commission

Address: 3225 25th St. SE, Salem, OR 97302

Email: sean.pollack@state.or.us

Phone: 503-947-5925

URL: https://www.oregon.gov/highered/institutions-programs/private/Pages/private-postsecondary-HECC-role.aspx

 

f.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

9: Surety Bonds

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

Please see clarifying answer below

b.
Web link for surety bonds.

No response provided

c.
Clarifying comments:

Degree-granting institutions must have a surety bond or letter of credit based on student prepaid tuition for the previous year that is sufficient to pay student claims for refund in the event of abrupt closure.

Non-degree institutions must make an initial deposit based on projected first-year gross tuition income plus 14 semi-annual payments based on actual gross tuition income to a Tuition Protection Fund.

Topic

10: Tuition Refund Policy

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

Yes. Degree-granting institutions must modify their tuition refund policy to comply with OAR 583-030-0035 (18) (c) for all Oregon residents enrolled in degree/certificate programs. Non-degree institutions must comply with cancellation and refund policies in OAR 715-045-0037.

b.
If yes, for what types of institutions?

No response provided

c.
Web link for tuition refund policy.

No response provided

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)?

Yes it does for private career schools. It is funded by fees from schools. Private colleges are required to keep a letter of credit or surety bond.

b.
If yes, for what types of institutions?

No response provided

c.
Web link for student tuition recovery fund.

No response provided

d.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

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?

All degree-granting and non-degree granting institutions must report annual student enrollment and annual completions data, and Fall student enrollments.

Degree-granting institutions must report changes in key administrative staff, new faculty hires, program changes, and ownership changes; all must be submitted for approval and/or reported as they occur during an authorization period.

For non-degree granting institutions, any changes in ownership, instructional staff, legal documents, school catalog, or curriculum must be reported. Completions, withdrawals, and placement statistics for each program must be reported and meet a minimum guideline. Financial statements must also be sent, and assurances that certain specific statutes are being followed. Any changes in ownership, the enrollment agreement, student catalog, or curriculum should be reported and approved before implementation. All other information is reported annually.

b.
How frequently do institutions report data?

All degree-granting and non-degree granting institutions must report annual student enrollment and annual completions data, and Fall student enrollments once per year.

c.
Is this information published or shared publicly?

This information includes statistics on students served and graduation rates, which are published publicly.

d.
Web link for reporting.

Reporting is conducted over a secure online server requiring a login and password.

e.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

13: Enforcement

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

For degree-granting institutions, if the school is known to have the legal authority to grant degrees elsewhere but has not obtained ODA approval to offer academic programs to Oregon students, then the ODA administrator would send a warning letter stating that we have received information that the school is offering courses, field experiences, or degree programs without approval. The letter would include the relevant citations and information about obtaining approval. In cases where there is no evidence of the school’s legal authority to grant degrees, the ODA would investigate further and follow up with enforcement action if necessary. Unresolved cases would be referred for follow-up with the Oregon Attorney General.

For non-degree granting institutions, a “cease and desist” letter is sent that requires the institution to immediately cease operation and contact our office for licensing. Failure to do so may result in civil and criminal penalties. An institution is entitled to a hearing of the matter before an administrative hearings officer. The determination of the hearings officer is final, but may be appealed to circuit court. A contested case hearing is subject to rules under OAR 715-011-0090: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/ors/ors348.html

b.
Web link for enforcement information.

No response provided

c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

14: Application Process

a.
Please provide a short description of the application process to obtain state authorization.

There are separate application forms and processes for in-state and out-of-state degree-granting institutions, and for licensure of non-degree granting schools.  Prospective owners and institutional staff are encouraged to contact the HECC at 503-947-5916 or by email at info.PPS@state.or.us for guidance through the licensure or authorization process.  Rule links may be found on the HECC website at: https://www.oregon.gov/highered/about/Pages/rules-statutes.aspx

c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

15: Fees Associated with Authorization

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

Fees are set in statute and rule.

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

No response provided

c.
Web link for fee information.

For degree granting institutions, ORS 348.606: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/ors/ors348.html

For non-degree granting institutions, OAR 715-045-0007: https://secure.sos.state.or.us/oard/viewSingleRule.action?ruleVrsnRsn=271525

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?
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?

For degree-granting institutions, located outside of Oregon, we expect all schools to seek ODA approval and to do so BEFORE sending students to a placement site or offering degree programs or academic credit to Oregon students. All the information and forms pertaining to approval are available on our website.

Any online program with or without a placement must be approved. Online programs that include a placement (clinical, practicum, internship, externship, etc.) at a site in Oregon cannot be exempt and must be individually authorized as a placement program unless the institution participates in an interstate reciprocity agreement; 10 or more placements would require direct authorization by the ADA. Authorization of a placement program includes approval of the associated online degree program.

Potential operators non-degree granting institutions seeking licensure are requested to read our rules and statutes, review the application, and come prepared with their questions in order to make the best use of time spent in a preliminary screening interview. There are requirements in rules that schools are required to do that are reflected in the new school application, so one cannot rely on the application as a sole source of information about what is required to successfully operate a career school in the state of Oregon.