Responses Last Confirmed:

Virginia State Council of Higher Education

Agency Contact

Sandra Freeman
804-225-3862
SandraFreeman@schev.edu

Additional Contact

Secretary of State Contact

Kelly Thomasson
804-786-2441
kelly.thomasson@governor.virginia.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

_**        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:

* SCHEV serves as coordinating body for public in-state institutions; ** SCHEV grants exemptions to religious institutions

Note:  non-profit and for-profit institutions of higher education that are accredited and have operated under regulatory oversight of SCHEV for 20 years can be released from SCHEV oversight and no longer are required to certify after 20 years. See Code of Virginia § 23.1-219 (D)

Topic

3: Accreditation

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

Yes

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

____      Religious institutions

____      Tribally-controlled institutions

_____    Federal Institutions

_____    Municipal institutions

c.
Clarifying comments:

Accrediting agency must be recognized by US Department of Education for Title IV purposes. 

Degree granting institutions operating in other states must be accredited to open locations in Virginia;  new Virginia based degree granting schools have 6 years from time of initial approval to achieve full accreditation by an accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education.

 

Topic

4: Exemptions

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

Yes. Religious institutions are exempt from certification.  Institutions that offer specific programs  outlined in Code and regulation are also exempt.

https://ppe.schev.edu/exemption

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?

At this time, no. However, the General Assembly passed legislation in 2020 that will require out-of-state degree granting institutions offering distance education to Virginia residents to be certified to operate by SCHEV or be part of SARA. The effective date of the legislation is 7/1/2022 to allow enough time for institutions already teaching Virginia residents to come into compliance.

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

Currently, yes.  Physical presence will not be required after the new legislation becomes effective.

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

No

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?

No response provided

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.

All student complaints against all postsecondary institutions in Virginia are responded to by SCHEV, including out-of-state institutions operating in Virginia.

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.)?

All student complaints against all postsecondary institutions in Virginia are responded to by SCHEV, including out-of-state institutions operating in Virginia.

c.
Web link for student complaints – SARA participating institutions.

All complaints are received via the portal at this link:

Complaint Information Page  http://www.schev.edu/index/students-and-parents/resources/student-complaints

 

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

We do not provide the name of a specific person that responds to complaints.  The complaints are received via an online portal.

All complaints are received via the portal at this link:

Complaint Information Page  http://www.schev.edu/index/students-and-parents/resources/student-complaints

 

e.
Clarifying comments:

All complaints are received via the portal at this link:

Complaint Information Page  http://www.schev.edu/index/students-and-parents/resources/student-complaints

 

Topic

8: Student Complaints - Non-SARA Participating Institutions

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

All student complaints against all postsecondary institutions in Virginia are responded to by SCHEV, including out-of-state institutions operating in Virginia.

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.)?

All are responded to by SCHEV.

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)?

No. If a school with no physical presence in Virginia enrolls distance education students, those complaints are handled by the home state of the school.

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

We do not provide the name of a specific person that responds to complaints.  The complaints are received via an online portal. See clarifying comments.

f.
Clarifying comments:

 All complaints are received via the portal at this link:

Complaint Information Page  http://www.schev.edu/index/students-and-parents/resources/student-complaints

 

Topic

9: Surety Bonds

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

Yes

b.
Web link for surety bonds.

No response provided

c.
Clarifying comments:

For first five years of operation only.  Schools can receive a waiver after the first five years if they meet the minimum regulatory requirement. See Virginia Administrative Code 8VAC40-31-160 (I) for details.

Topic

10: Tuition Refund Policy

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

Yes. For classes of certified schools. 

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)?

Not anymore. Prior to 2006, non-degree schools were regulated by the Virginia Department of Education.  These schools were transferred to SCHEV for regulatory purposes.  There was a tuition recovery fund that these schools contributed to and the balance in the fund was transferred to SCHEV. The new regulation that was finalized in 2006 eliminated the tuition guaranty fund contributions.   Over the years we have used the remaining funds to cover refunds for students that have not been covered  by any other sources.  There is still a small balance in the account.  When that is depleted, there will be no funds to cover any claims not covered by other sources (such as surety instruments or letters of credit).

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 schools must report enrollment and Graduation data whether in-state or out-of-state.  Career-technical non-degree schools also submit placement data.

 

b.
How frequently do institutions report data?

Every year at re-certification time.

c.
Is this information published or shared publicly?

No

d.
Web link for reporting.

No response provided

e.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

13: Enforcement

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

§ 23.1-228. Violations; penalties; remedies.

A. Violations of this article or the Council's implementing regulations are punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Each degree, certificate, program, academic transcript, or course of study offered, conferred, or used in violation of this article or the Council's regulations shall constitute a separate offense.

B. If no criminal prosecution is instituted against such postsecondary school pursuant to subsection A, the Council may recover a civil penalty of at least $200 but not more than $1,000 per separate offense set forth in subsection A. 

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.

To apply for a Certificate to Operate:

1. Attend a New School Orientation Session.

2. Submit an Intent to Operate a Postsecondary School form and wait to receive an approval from SCHEV

3. Submit a complete certification application package with all required documents.

4. Submit all required fees.

5. Undergo a site visit at the Virginia location from which instruction will be offered or the administrative functions of the school will take place.

https://ppe.schev.edu/school/open-a-school

https://ppe.schev.edu/new-school-certification

 

c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

15: Fees Associated with Authorization

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

New institutions:  $6,000 for degree-granting; $2,500 for non-degree.  Annual recertification is on a sliding scale from $250 to $5,000 based on tuition collected. 

Renewal fee for all postsecondary schools with an

Annual gross tuition collected less than $50,000, as

recorded on most recent financial statement.

$250

Renewal fee for all postsecondary schools with an

annual gross tuition collected greater than or equal to

$50,000 but less than $100,000, as recorded on most

recent financial statement

$1,000

Renewal fee for all postsecondary schools with an

Annual gross tuition collected greater than or equal to

$100,000 but less than$500,000, as recorded on most

recent financial statement

$2,500

Renewal fee for all postsecondary schools with an

Annual gross tuition collected greater than or equal to

$500,000 but less than$1,000,000, as recorded on most

recent financial statement

$4,000

Renewal fee for all postsecondary schools with an

Annual gross tuition collected greater than or equal to

$1,000,000, as recorded on most recent financial statement

$5,000

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

No response provided

c.
Web link for fee information.

No response provided

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?

SCHEV sends instructions on closures including information regarding student transcripts. The school may transfer the transcripts to SCHEV or, with SCHEV’s permission, may transfer them to another location (such as another school) provided they give us information on how students may retrieve their transcripts.

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

Many closed school records are maintained by SCHEV. Students can see where their closed school records are stored  by going on the SCHEV website (www.schev.edu ) and looking at the closed school link.  If SCHEV has the records, they complete a form and mail it to the SCHEV office with a $10 fee.  A specific person is not identified for this purpose.

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?

No response provided