Responses Last Confirmed:

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Agency Contact

Stephanie Bellard Chase
615-741-5293
stephanie.bellard@tn.gov

Additional Contact

Secretary of State Contact

Tre Hargett
6157412819
tre.hargett@tn.gov
Topic:

Types of Educational Providers Authorized

2A1.
Institution Types Authorized – 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 (There is an exemption applicable to some – see Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-7-2004(a)(6))

__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

2A2.
Clarifying comments:

Private, in-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions and private, out-of-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions may be exempt pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-7-2004(a)(6). Some religious institutions may be exempt pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-7-2004(a)(4). THEC has not addressed authorization of tribally –controlled for federal institutions.

2B1.
Is accreditation required for an institution to be authorized in your state? Yes or No.

No. 

2B2.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

2B3.
If yes, what type of accreditation is required? Please, check all that apply as appropriate.

No response provided

Regional Accreditation Required for:

____ Public, out-of-state degree granting institutions

____ Private, in-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions

____ Private, out-of-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions

____ Private, in-state, for-profit degree granting institutions

____ 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

__

2B4.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

2C1.
Does your agency authorize specific academic programs offered by institutions, only institutions themselves, or both?

____ Institution _____ Program ___X__ Both

2C2.
Clarifying comments:

Institutions seeking regular authorization must apply for institution authorization and program approval. Institutions seeking optional expedited authorization (OEA) only apply for institution authorization. THEC maintains an inventory of OEA programs but does not approve the programs.

2D1.
Does your state require a Surety Bond for authorized out-of-state institutions? Yes or No.

Yes. 

2D2.
Clarifying comments:

See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-7-2013 for specific bond requirements.

2E1.
Does your state have a Tuition Refund Policy Requirement? If so, for which types of institutions?

Yes, Tennessee has a tuition guarantee fund – Tenn. Code Ann. § See 49-7-2018. The fund is available to students who reside in Tennessee or attend an authorized location with a Tennessee address.

Topic:

Exemptions

3A1.
Are certain institutions or programs exempt by law or policy from your state authorization requirements? If so, for which types of institutions? Which types of programs? Please provide web link.
Topic:

Authorization of Distance Education

4A1.
Does your agency require purely online programs offered by out-of-state institutions to be authorized without regard to physical presence? Yes or No.

Physical presence is always considered; however, physical presence in Tennessee does not include merely enrolling a student into a distance education program.

4A2.
If not, does your agency determine whether an institution must be authorized based on a physical presence (“operating”) standard? Yes or No.

Yes , physical presence is always considered.

4A3.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

4B1.
Does your agency require correspondence study programs to be authorized without regard to physical presence? Yes or No

Physical presence is always considered; however, physical presence in Tennessee does not include merely enrolling a student into a distance education program.

4B2.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic:

Physical Presence Policy - Common Triggers

5A1.
If your agency uses a physical presence standard, how does your agency define physical presence? If available, please provide a link to that policy or a citation to the relevant regulation giving that standard.

"Physical presence” means presence within the state of Tennessee for the purpose of conducting activity related to a postsecondary educational institution as given in T.C.A. § 49- 7-2007. Physical presence as further outlined for purposes of authorization shall include but not be limited to: (a) Operating an instructional site within the state; (b) Offering instruction within or originating from Tennessee designed to impart knowledge with response utilizing teachers, trainers, counselors or computer resources, computer linking, or any form of electronic means; (c) Granting an educational

5A2.
URL for physical presence definition
5A3.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic:

Application Process

6A1.
Description – Please provide a short description of the application process to obtain state authorization. If available, please provide web links to the specific references to all applicable state laws, regulations, manuals, forms, or other pertinent docu

To begin the authorization process you must complete an Initial Authorization Application and any related applications, such as New Program Applications or School Personnel Applications; pay all required fees; secure the required bonds; receive a successful site visit report; and meet all minimum standards.

Applications are considered by the Committee on Postsecondary Educational Institutions (CPEI) at its quarterly meetings. The Committee will vote as to whether to recommend approval of the institution and related programs to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Thereafter, the

6A3.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic:

Fees Associated with Authorization

7A1.
Application Fee – Is there an application fee to initiate the authorization process? If so, what is the fee or fee schedule? Please provide a web link if available.

For regular authorization there is a $3000 initial authorization application fee and $500 per program application fee.

For Optional Expedited Authorization there is an annual $9000 application fee.

7A2.
URL for Fee Information

For regular authorization see Rule 1540-01-02-.25 (https://publications.tnsosfiles.com/rules/1540/1540-01-02.20170321.pdf)

For Optional Expedited Authorization see Rule 1540-01-10-.09 (https://publications.tnsosfiles.com/rules/1540/1540-01-10.20170321.pdf)

7A3.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic:

Reporting

8A1.
What kinds of information or data must an institution report to your agency as a condition for continued out-of-state authorization?

All authorized institutions shall provide student-level statistical data on a Commission staff data form that will allow Commission staff to calculate the following statistical information by institution and program: (a) The enrollment count; (b) Demographic statistics; (c) Withdrawal rates; (d) Completion rates; (e) Number of credentials awarded; (f) Categories of credentials awarded; (g) Placement rates; (h) In-field placement rates; and (i) Average time to completion.

Data shall include all students enrolled at the institution between the twelve (12) months beginning July 1 and ending June

8A2.
URL for reporting
8A3.
How frequently do institutions report data?

Yearly on October 15

8A4.
Is this information published or shared publicly?

THEC shall publish the results of its calculations on its website except that withdrawal, completion, placement, and in-field placement rates shall not be reported for programs with ten (10) or fewer students.

8A5.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic:

Consumer Protection and Student Complaints - Non-SARA Participating Institutions

9A1.
Please describe the process for handling complaints about out-of-state postsecondary institutions or programs?

THEC accepts complaints from anyone in regard to regularly authorized institutions. THEC accepts only student complaints against optionally expedited authorized institutions that have not been resolved at the institution level. THEC also accepts complaints regarding institutions authorized through the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA).

9A3.
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.)?

Process handled at THEC.

9A4.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

9B1.
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)?

No. 

9B2.
Who is the contact person at your agency for receiving complaints?
  • Contact Name Julie Woodruff
  • Title Assistant Executive Director and Lead Attorney
  • Agency Tennessee Higher Education Commission, DPSA
  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone (615)741-5293
  • URL
9B3.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic:

Consumer Protection and Student Complaints - SARA Participating Institutions

10A1.
Please describe the process for handling complaints about SARA participating Institutions.

THEC has not received a SARA complaint to date, but were we to receive one, we would investigate similarly to other complaints.

10A2.
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.)?

Process handled at THEC.

10A4.
Who is the contact person at your agency for receiving complaints?

Contact Name Julie Woodruff

Title  Assistant Executive Director and Lead Attorney

Agency Tennessee Higher Education Commission, DPSA

Agency

Address

Email

Phone (615)741-5293

URL

10A5.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic:

Enforcement

11A1.
If your agency has written descriptions of the possible consequence of institutional non-compliance, please provide it (or provide a web link).

Generally, THEC can assess fines, change authorization to conditional or revoke authorization. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-7-2010, 2017 and 2022 (https://advance.lexis.com/container?config=014CJAA5ZGVhZjA3NS02MmMzLTRlZWQtOGJjNC00YzQ1MmZlNzc2YWYKAFBvZENhdGFsb2e9zYpNUjTRaIWVfyrur9ud&crid=a6dd0989-2cdc-42ad-aff3-1ea912252481) and Rule 1540-01-02-.22 (https://publications.tnsosfiles.com/rules/1540/1540-01-02.20170321.pdf)

Topic:

Records Retention

12A1.
When a school closes, what is the process your state uses to ensure that transcripts/records are kept available?

Tennessee requires institution to retain transcripts indefinitely. When an institution closes THEC requests all transcripts since authorization and maintains transcript in a database managed by THEC.

12B1.
From what agency do students request their transcripts/records from a closed school?
Topic:

Additional Information

13A1.
Is there anything else about the authorization process in your state that we and others ought to know about?

No response provided