Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 8. Education
Agency 40. State Council Of Higher Education For Virginia
Chapter 31. Regulations Governing Certification of Certain Institutions to Confer Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates
5/6/2021

8VAC40-31-170. Initial certification, recertification, and change of ownership.

A. An institution shall not use the term "college" or "university" or words of similar meaning until it has received acknowledgment from council staff that the name is not in violation of 8VAC40-31-20.

1. A school may not use the term "college" in its name unless the school has been approved or seeks to offer programs at the associate degree or above.

2. A school may not use the term "university" in its name unless the school has been approved or seeks to offer programs at the master's degree or above.

3. The council may refuse to approve a name change when, in the council's judgment, the proposed name is likely to mislead the public about the school's identity or the nature of its programs.

4. A school seeking certification must notify council staff of its proposed name prior to filing such name with the State Corporation Commission.

5. Prior to receiving certification to operate, a copy of the school's certificate from the Virginia State Corporation Commission authorizing it to transact business in the Commonwealth under the acknowledged name must be submitted to council staff.

B. A school shall not operate in the Commonwealth of Virginia without first receiving certification to operate from the council. Certified schools shall not enter into any agreement to deliver or develop courses or programs of study in Virginia with noncertified postsecondary schools.

C. An out-of-state postsecondary school seeking certification to operate in the Commonwealth of Virginia must secure written documentation from the higher education coordinating or approving agency in the state or country in which the school is formed, chartered, established, or incorporated indicating that the school is operating in good standing. If the school formerly operated in another state or country but is not operating there at the time of its application to operate in Virginia, the school must secure from the higher education coordinating or approving agency documentation that it closed in good standing and would be allowed to reestablish a postsecondary school in that state or country. These written documentations must be provided to council staff.

D. A school submitting its initial application for certification will have 180 days to complete the application process, after which time its application will be withdrawn by the council and it will receive a refund of the application fee minus a nonrefundable administrative fee as listed in 8VAC40-31-260 D.

E. All certifications shall expire on the certificate expiration date. Applications for recertification must be submitted to council staff at least 60 days prior to the expiration date of the current certification. If a school allows its certification to operate to expire, the school shall not be eligible for recertification and must submit an application for initial certification including the appropriate application fee.

F. Certification is not transferable. In the event of a change of ownership of a certified school, the new owner or governing body must secure certification. The school must apply for certification within 45 business days following a change of ownership. During the 45-day period and the time required for the council staff to process the new application, up to and not exceeding 90 days, the old certification shall remain in effect provided that no changes have been made in the academic programs, policies, or financial considerations such that the change would constitute or create a violation of council's policies.

1. The following constitutes a change of ownership:

a. Purchase of the entire school or assets of school.

b. Transfer, sale, or purchase of stock, membership, or other direct or beneficial ownership interest by a single entity or by multiple entities in a single transaction or a series of transactions that results in at least 51% change in control.

2. The acquisition of an interest in a certified school by bequest, descent, survivorship, or operation of law does not constitute a change of ownership. However, the person acquiring the ownership interest shall send written notice to the council of such acquisition within 30 days of its closing or validation. The council may determine on a case-by-case basis that other similar transfers may not constitute a change of ownership.

3. New school owners are responsible for maintaining and servicing all student records that were the responsibility of the prior owners of the school.

4. New school owners are responsible for resolving all student complaints that were the responsibility of the prior owners of the school or that were filed with the council prior to the final approval of the change of ownership.

5. New school owners are responsible for honoring the terms of current student enrollment agreements, institutional scholarships, or institutional grants for all students who were enrolled or taking classes at the time the change of ownership took place.

G. Council staff will process all applications, conduct the site visit, and provide notice to applicants within 45 business days of receipt of a completed application package. Approval of the certificate to operate by the council is subject to scheduling of council meetings and other factors affecting the agendas of council meetings.

H. Valid-through dates of certificates to operate and due dates of recertification applications are as follows:

1. Out-of-state private degree-granting and career-technical school certificates are valid for one year beginning on September 1 of the calendar year and ending on August 31 of the following calendar year. Applications are due not later than July 2.

2. Out-of-state public institution certificates are valid for one year beginning on September 15 of the calendar year and ending on September 14 of the following calendar year. Applications are due not later than July 16.

3. In-state private nonprofit institution certificates are valid for one year beginning on October 1 of the calendar year and ending on September 30 of the following calendar year. Applications are due not later than August 2.

4. In-state proprietary degree-granting and career-technical school certificates are valid for one year beginning on October 15 of the calendar year and ending on October 14 of the following calendar year. Applications are due not later than August 16.

5. In-state proprietary career-technical school certificates (letters A-D) are valid for one year beginning on November 1 of the calendar year and ending on October 31 of the following calendar year. Applications are due not later than September 2.

6. In-state proprietary career-technical school certificates (letters E-P) are valid for one year beginning on November 15 of the calendar year and ending on November 14 of the following calendar year. Applications are due not later than September 16.

7. In-state proprietary career-technical school certificates (letters Q-Z and others) are valid for one year beginning on December 1 of the calendar year and ending on November 30 of the following calendar year. Applications are due not later than October 2.

Statutory Authority

§§ 23-9.6:1 and 23-276.3 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 22, Issue 23, eff. August 24, 2006; amended, Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 8, eff. February 3, 2014; Volume 32, Issue 17, eff. June 3, 2016.

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