Preliminary Draft Text
Any degree-granting postsecondary school providing distance learning to residents of the Commonwealth from a location outside of the Commonwealth shall be certified to operate in the Commonwealth or shall be a participant in a reciprocity agreement to which the Commonwealth belongs, in accordance with Council's authority pursuant to § 23.1-211, for the purpose of consumer protection.
A. Any degree-granting postsecondary institution seeking initial or renewal authorization to offer distance education programs/courses to residents of the Commonwealth from a location outside of the Commonwealth that is not a participant in a reciprocity agreement to which the Commonwealth belongs must demonstrate that it meets the following eligibility criteria:
1. The institution is properly authorized to operate, and in good standing, by the appropriate entity in the state where the institution has legal domicile.
2. The institution is a U.S. degree-granting institution that is accredited by an accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education with a scope of authority, as specified by the U.S. Department of Education, that includes distance education.
3. The institution is in good standing, including having no current or pending show cause or probation actions against it.
4. The institution demonstrates minimum financial stability to qualify for certification defined as a federal Financial Responsibility Composite Score of 1.5 or above.
B. An institution certified pursuant to this section shall provide proof of the following disclosures to Virginia residents:
1. A notification that the school is certified to operate by Council.
2. A notification outlining the procedures a student may follow to file a complaint against the school. The disclosure must include a statement that if the complaint is not resolved to the student's satisfaction, he may contact Council as a last resort. The school must provide contact information for Council and must ensure that the student will not be retaliated against for filing a complaint.
3. A notification stating that the transferability of credits earned at the school is at the sole discretion of the receiving institution.
4. For institutions offering programs or courses leading to or advertised as leading to professional licensure, a notification regarding whether completion of the program is sufficient to meet licensure requirements in Virginia. If the institution is unable to determine whether a program will meet the professional licensure requirements in Virginia, the notification shall provide current contact information for any applicable licensing boards, and advise the student or applicant to determine whether the program meets requirements for licensure in Virginia prior to enrollment.
C. An institution certified pursuant to this section shall pay a nonrefundable initial and renewal authorization fee as provided in 8 VAC 40-31-260.
D. An institution certified pursuant to this section shall immediately inform the Council and current enrolled students who are residents of the Commonwealth of any adverse action by the U.S. Department of Education or by its accrediting agency that threatens a disruption of the operation of the institution and/or exposes students to a loss of course or degree credit or financial loss.
E. The certificate of authorization for an institution certified pursuant to this section shall expire on the stated expiration date. Applications for annual renewals must be submitted to Council at least 90 days prior to the expiration date of the current authorization.