Responses Last Confirmed:

Washington Student Achievement Council

Agency Contact

Tivoli Sharp
360-485-1080
tivolis@wsac.wa.gov

Additional Contact

Secretary of State Contact

Kim Wyman
360-902-4151
kim.wyman@sos.wa.gov
Topic

1: Important Agency Information to Note

a.
Provide any important information about your agency.

The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) is a nine-member council supported by a cabinet-level state agency. By statute, the Council provides strategic planning, oversight, advocacy, and program administration to support increased student success and higher levels of educational attainment in Washington.

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
____ Non-degree, not-for profit institutions
____ 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 __X__ Program _____ Both

c.
Clarifying comments:

Authorization is program and site specific.

We regulate degree-granting institutions only. Non-degree programs are regulated by different state agencies. We do not differentiate between for-profit and not-for-profit in our review process. We do not grant authorization to religious institutions, we grant exemptions, however they are the only type of exemption that has a regular reporting requirement at this time.

Topic

3: Accreditation

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

Yes

New institutions may submit a plan for accreditation in lieu of being accredited. For more details please see the regulations around accreditation at https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=250-61-085.

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

See answer above

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
____ Religious institutions
____ Tribally-controlled institutions
____ Federal Institutions
____ Municipal institutions

c.
Clarifying comments:

Authorized institutions may seek accreditation from any accrediting agency recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and WSAC. You can find a list of recognized accreditation agencies on the WSAC website at https://wsac.wa.gov/degree-authorization toward the bottom of the page.

Topic

4: Exemptions

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

WAC 250-61-063 (https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=250-61-060) clearly lists all categories of institutions eligible for exemption

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

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?

No, but they will need to contribute to the Tuition Recovery Trust Fund if they enroll WA residents starting in Fall 2020. Collection of contributions was pushed back to 2021 due to impacts of COVID-19.

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

Yes

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

No

d.
Clarifying comments:

If the online program includes a required field placement component, then field placement authorization is required.

If the correspondence study program includes a required field placement component, then field placement authorization is required.

Topic

6: Physical Presence Policy

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

We use “operate” interchangeably with “physical presence”. Per WAC 250-61-050(17): "Operate" means, but is not limited to, the following:

(a) Offering courses for academic credit at any Washington location or via distance learning from a Washington location.

(b) Granting or offering to grant degrees in Washington for credit obtained within or outside the state.

(c) Maintaining or advertising a Washington location, mailing address, or telecommunications number for any purpose other than contact with the institution's former students for any legitimate purpose related to their previous attendance.

(d) Maintaining or advertising an application for enrollment or a mechanism to collect prospective student data in any advertisement, publication, web site, software application, or other media, if the institution maintains a Washington location.

(e) Advertising, promoting, publicizing, soliciting or recruiting for the institution or its offerings that is targeted specifically at Washington citizens, excluding multi-institutional college fairs.

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.

WSAC will not investigate student complaints until the student has exhausted the institution’s complaint/appeals process.

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 SARA related complaints are handled by WSAC

c.
Web link for student complaints – SARA participating institutions.
d.
Who is the contact person at your agency for receiving complaints?
  • Contact Name: Tivoli Sharp
  • Title: Program Associate, Consumer Protection
  • Agency: Washington Student Achievement Council
  • Address: P.O. Box 43430, Olympia, WA 98504-3430
  • Email: tivolis@wsac.wa.gov
  • Phone: 360-485-1080
  • URL https://wsac.wa.gov/student-complaints
e.
Clarifying comments:

The complaint process is the same for SARA/non-SARA institutions regulated by WSAC

Topic

8: Student Complaints - Non-SARA Participating Institutions

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

WSAC will not investigate student complaints until the student has exhausted the institution’s complaint/appeals process. Please see the email attachment titled “01-Washington Student Complaint Process” for more details.

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.)?
  • WSAC handles complaints for all authorized and most 4-year institutions
  • Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (WTB) handles complaints for all non-degree private vocational schools
  • WA Department of Licensing (DOL) handles complaints for cosmetology schools
  • State Board of Community and Technical College (SBCTC) handles complaints for the 34 public community and technical colleges

The student complaint portal is now live and can be found at https://www.studentcomplaints.wa.gov/hc/en-us. Each agency’s individual complaint page includes a link to the portal.

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)?

Starting in Fall 2020, the complaint process will extend to out-of-state, 100% online, non-SARA participant institutions who do not require authorization but enroll WA residents

d.
Who is the contact person at your agency for receiving complaints?
  • Contact Name: Tivoli Sharp
  • Title: Program Associate, Consumer Protection
  • Agency: Washington Student Achievement Council
  • Address: P.O. Box 43430, Olympia, WA 98504-3430
  • Email: tivolis@wsac.wa.gov
  • Phone: 360-485-1080
  • URL https://wsac.wa.gov/student-complaints
e.
Web link for the complaint form.
f.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

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.

This information is found within the application for authorization.

c.
Clarifying comments:

ALL authorized institutions have a surety bond requirement

Topic

10: Tuition Refund Policy

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

Yes. All authorized institutions are subject to the fund as well as out-of-state 100% online non-SARA participant institutions who enroll WA residents.

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

b.
If yes, for what types of institutions?

All authorized institutions and out-of-state 100% online non-SARA participant institutions who enroll WA residents.

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?

The following information is required in the initial application and biennially in the renewal application:                        

  • Administrative Requirements (i.e. application fee, surety bond, etc.)
  • General Institutional Requirements (i.e. contact information, mission statement, accreditation, legal operating status, ownership, administrative officers, etc.)
  • Academic Requirements (i.e. program info, faculty, enrollments, mode of delivery, etc.)
  • Instructional Resources and Support Services (i.e. facilities, library, student services, finances, etc.)
  • Catalog (i.e. institutional policies)

Starting Fall 2020, authorized institution will be required to report annual tuition and fee revenue from authorized activity in order to calculate Tuition Recovery Trust Fund contribution amounts. 

b.
How frequently do institutions report data?

Biennially, except for annual tuition and fee revenue which will be reported annually starting in Fall 2020

c.
Is this information published or shared publicly?

Data provided by institutions is subject to public records requests and all authorized institutions are listed on our website

d.
Web link for reporting.

N/A, applications are submitted via hardcopy

e.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

13: Enforcement

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

Application review procedures: https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=250-61-180                                  180

Notes: The minimum comment period is 30 days. A site visit, external consultants, and comment period are not typically required for institutions seeking to advertise/recruit locally in WA or offer field placement components only.

b.
Web link for application.

The application must be requested from WSAC staff, it is not posted online at this time.

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?

Initial Standard Authorization: $2,000 plus $1,000 for each degree program

Standard Renewal: $1,000 plus $250 for each degree program

Initial Field Placement Authorization: $2,000

Field Placement Renewal: $1,000

Late Application Fee: $1,000

c.
Web link for fee information.

Fee information is listed in WAC 250-60-170 (https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=250-61-170

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?

Requirements for closed school records are outlined in WAC 250-61-160 (https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=250-61-160)

Which require that schools provide WSAC with the following:

  • Electronic copies of transcripts for all current and past students
  • An account ledger for each student that includes, at a minimum, clear and correct information about student charges, payments, and the source for each payment
  • A plan for the maintenance of student records

In the event it appears to the council that the official records of an institution discontinuing its operations are in danger of being destroyed, secreted, mislaid, or otherwise made unavailable to the students and the council, the council may seek a court order to take possession of the records and provide for their permanent maintenance.

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?

Please contact WSAC staff if you have any questions or would like to request a copy of any applications for authorization