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

8VAC40-31-180. Application requirements.

A. Each certification to operate attests that the school is in compliance with Chapter 21.1 (§ 23-276.1 et seq.) of Title 23 of the Code of Virginia and with this chapter.

B. To apply for certification, the following information must be submitted:

1. A completed certification application package provided by council staff.

2. A statement regarding the school's accreditation status, if applicable.

a. Career-technical schools must provide a statement that the courses of study offered conform to state, federal, trade, or manufacturing standards of training for the occupational fields in which such standards have been established or that courses conform to recognized training practices in those fields.

b. Out-of-state institutions and career-technical schools requesting initial certification must be accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) and must provide evidence that there has been no determination of limitation, suspension, revocation, or termination by the USDOE, an accrediting body, or a state regulatory body against the school within the past five years.

c. Unaccredited in-state institutions that offer courses for degree credit and existing unaccredited out-of-state career-technical schools must submit a plan of action for securing accreditation from an organization recognized by the USDOE, including the name of the accrediting organization and timeframe. In order to remain eligible for certification, the postsecondary school must secure, at a minimum, candidacy status or equivalent within three years of its initial date of certification, and initial accreditation no later than six years after initial certification. Changes to the plan of action timeframe for accreditation will be granted only at the discretion of the council.

d. Unaccredited in-state institutions that undergo a change of ownership during the time period covered by the plan of action for securing accreditation, and that wish to remain eligible for certification under new ownership, will remain on the plan of action timeframe established by the former ownership. This plan of action timeframe begins from the initial date of certification under the former ownership and encompasses the accreditation dates established in the plan of action put into place by the former ownership. No additional time will be granted for obtaining the minimum level of accreditation required of the plan of action due to the change in ownership. Changes to the plan of action timeframe for accreditation will not be granted except at the discretion of the council.

3. A transacted surety instrument form, with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia named as the obligee.

4. A three-year projected budget that indicates that the school is capable of maintaining operational continuity for up to three years. The budget should demonstrate:

a. That the individual, partnership, or corporation that owns the school is solvent and has the financial capacity to support the operation; and

b. A positive net worth, accompanied by a reasonable debt to equity ratio.

5. A completed checklist, signed and dated, acknowledging full compliance with certification criteria, along with a notarized attestation statement signed by the chief executive officer or equivalent.

6. A company check in the correct, nonrefundable amount made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia.

7. A copy of the school's certificate, if incorporated, from the State Corporation Commission providing authorization to transact business within the Commonwealth.

8. For schools whose main campus is not in Virginia, a copy of the school's authorization to operate from the state agency in which its main campus is domiciled. No institution found to be operating illegally in another state shall be certified to operate in Virginia. An institution that has lost its legal authority to operate in another state shall be required to submit written documentation that describes the circumstances under which its authority was lost and to submit written documentation of the steps taken to remedy these circumstances before making application for certification in Virginia.

9. A complete listing of all sites, along with their addresses, phone numbers (if applicable), and programs offered at the site.

10. For new postsecondary school applicants, a signed and notarized statement provided by the president or CEO, that attests to any previous involvement in the operation of a postsecondary school or any previous involvement by any administrator, owner, controlling shareholder, or member of the school's governing board in the operation of a postsecondary school. At a minimum, this statement shall include the name(s) of previous schools, the dates of the involvement, the positions held within the school, the location, the status (open/closed, and accredited/nonaccredited) of the school, any known violation of federal or state financial aid rules by the school, any known violations of the policies of an accreditor of the school, any bankruptcy filings by the school, and conviction or civil penalty levied by any legal entity in connection with this or any other educational entity in which he was employed or invested.

11. A complete list of all diploma, certificate, or degree program offerings during the valid period of the certification. This list shall consist of the number of hours required for completion of each program, the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Code where applicable, and the type of program and degree.

a. New and unaccredited schools must also include their estimated annual enrollment projections and number of students per program; and

b. Schools that are renewing certificates to operate shall include from the previous year the following information:

(1) The number of degrees, certificates, or diplomas conferred for each program offered by the school at its Virginia facility.

(2) The number of students graduating and the number enrolled at its Virginia facility.

c. Unaccredited institutions of higher education and career-technical schools shall include, from follow-up surveys of graduates, the number of students reporting placement in jobs relating to their field of study within six months; and one year of graduation.

C. An existing postsecondary school licensed by any other state agency empowered by the Code of Virginia to license the school, its teachers or curriculum, or both, must become certified prior to enrolling any student into a course for degree credit or program of study. The school must submit an application for certification to operate that shall contain all of the requirements outlined in 8VAC40-31-160 B and C.

D. When a branch campus of a school is under different ownership or different school name than the main campus of the school, the branch campus must submit an application for certification to operate and must pay a separate certification fee than the main campus of the school.

E. Any proprietary postsecondary school must provide evidence of a valid business license from the locality within which it seeks to operate. If and when council receives confirmation that a school is operating without the required business license, council shall take action as required by § 23-276.15 of the Code of Virginia.

F. All postsecondary schools seeking certification to operate in Virginia must undergo and successfully complete a site visit prior to the issuance of the certificate to operate.

Statutory Authority

§ 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.

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