Frequently Asked Questions
As of February 2013
This page contains practical information about the registration of Postsecondary Educational Institutions (PEI) and Proprietary Schools (PS) operating in Idaho. Clarifications on any issue may be obtained from the Coordinator.
NOTE-1: Idaho law requires ALL degree granting colleges and non-degree trade/career schools to register annually with the State Board of Education (SBOE) unless specifically exempted within categories listed in Statute or Rule.
NOTE-2: All properly Registered schools will have a signed & dated Certificate of Registration from SBOE.
(Certificates of Exemption will be provided to any exempt school upon request.)
NOTE-3: No PEI or PS will be eligible to participate in the Veteran's Benefits Assistance Programs, any Title-IV federal or state student loan programs, or to become a Dept of Labor/Workforce Investment Act (DOL/WIA) or Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (IDVR) service provider, unless it is properly registered with the Idaho State Board of Education.
- Who do I contact for State Authorization under Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. Sec-600.9)?
- What types of schools must register in Idaho?
- How are Postsecondary Educational Institutions (PEI) and Proprietary Schools (PS) different?
- Can a school choose to register as a PEI even if they don't offer degrees?
- How are annual registration fees determined?
- Must I update database information immediately or can it wait for the next registration cycle?
- May I maintain my registration even if I'm not currently teaching or creating any Tuition Revenue?
- What does Gross Idaho Tuition Revenue (GITR) actually mean?
- How does Idaho law define "Presence" in the state for registration purposes?
- Do Online Only Institutions located outside Idaho have to register?
- Exactly what is the purpose of the Surety Bond?
- Are there any Alternatives to having a Surety Bond?
- When are Criminal History Background Checks required on school employees?
- What exactly does the Attestation Page at the end of the Registration Application mean?
- Are there any schools that do not have to register with the State Board?
- What is accreditation and why is that important to me?
- Can non-degree career schools also be "accredited?"
- Must I have academic or training curriculum approval from someone or can I just write my own?
- How long must school hold student records after the school closes/defaults, or an individual student's program of instruction is completed?
- What is a diploma mill?
- How can I tell a diploma mills from a legitimate school?
- Are degrees & credits from unaccredited institutions or diploma mills transferrable? Can I use that degree or credits to get a job or to enroll in more higher education?
- Does Idaho have a state Student Complaints Process independent of the institutions?
Who do I contact for State Authorization under New Federal Regulations (34 C.F.R. Sec-600.9)?
Contact the State Coordinator for Private Colleges & Proprietary Schools, Office of the State Board of Education.
What types of schools must register in Idaho?
All degree-granting institutions and non-degree trade/career schools must register annually with the SBOE. Instructions, forms, basic criteria and contact information are posted on the web pages at www.boardofed.idaho.gov.
- There are some exemptions in statute; however, being an accredited Public Institution from another state is Not one of them.
- All 1st time applicants must use the Form-A, Primary Database Application regardless of which one is posted on the web pages this year. (Contact the State Coordinator for specific instructions.)
- All previously registered schools will use whichever Application Form is posted on the web page this year.
- Registration documents cannot be issued until all required information is on file at OSBE.
How are Postsecondary Educational Institutions (PEI) and Proprietary Schools (PS) different?
Under Idaho Statute (Title 33, Chapter 24) and Administrative Rule (IDAPA 08.01.11) both are private business entities or corporations that provide educational services or training courses to the public.
- PEIs are degree-granting Institutions authorized by the SBOE to award college-level academic degrees or teach for college credit. If a school offers even one (1) Associate Degree program it must register as a PEI regardless of the number of other certificate-level programs offered.
- NOTE: There is No Inherent Right to grant college degrees in Idaho. That authority comes only with proper registration through SBOE.
- PS are non-degree, trade and career schools and can only award Certificates of Course Completion or Diplomas. Unaccredited colleges must first register as a PS until proper accreditation is achieved and a PEI Application is approved by SBOE.
Can a school choose to register as a PEI even if they don't offer college degrees?
No. Non-degree granting schools must register as a PS.
How are annual registration fees determined?
The annual fee is one-half of one percent of Gross Idaho Tuition Revenue (.005 x $GITR) for the previous registration year. Minimum fee is $100 / maximum fee is capped at $5,000.
- Every school pays their equitable fee based on a percentage of business revenue they generate. It can go up or down from year to year as it follows business income.
Must I update database information immediately or can it wait for the next registration cycle?
You should always immediately notify the State Coordinator about any application information that changes (owner name, location address, phone, email address, Surety Bond changes, etc). Failure to do so may mean you miss important service announcements or regulation change notices. An email is fine.
May I maintain my registration even if I'm not currently teaching or creating any Tuition Revenue?
Yes, a school may file a "place holder" registration and pay the Annual Registration Fee (based on the previous Tax year's GITR formula). Depending on the amount of time before you expect to start operating again, it may also be wise to maintain your Surety Bond.
- If nothing on the previous application has changed, a letter of intent may suffice. Ask the State Coordinator to clarify.
- The advantage of doing so is that you can rapidly resume teaching when you choose to without the delay of going through the registration process over again. A break of more than one year requires a FORM-A application and a new Surety Bond on the state approved form.
What does Gross Idaho Tuition Revenue (GITR) actually mean?
GITR is school/business office revenue generated inside the borders of Idaho, at the "point of sale" so to speak. GITR is created where the school is physically located, where instruction takes place and for which tuition is actually paid. Schools with no physical presence in Idaho Do Not generate GITR.
How does Idaho law define "Presence" in the state for registration purposes?
"Presence" means physical presence. Idaho is a "Brick & Mortar" state. Only those schools that have teaching or business operations facilities inside Idaho need register.
Recruiting Agents, attending school/job fairs, online-course practicums or clinicals conducted inside Idaho, employing online faculty who happen to live in Idaho, etc, do not count as presence.
Do Online Only Institutions located outside Idaho have to register?
No. Also, after July 2011, Adjunct Faculty who live in Idaho, recruiting activities at college or job fairs, clinicals, practicum, or internships, etc, ... no longer count as 'presence' under Idaho rules.
- If, however, an online-only institution operates from a business operations center located inside Idaho, they would have to register with SBOE.
Exactly what is the purpose of the Surety Bond?
The Surety Bond provides consumer protection. It's an insurance policy against a school closure before students have completed the entire pre-paid program of instruction.
- If a school closes, the SBOE will make claim against the Bondto recover 100% of pre-paid student tuition. Of course, it's preferable if the school arranges 'teach-outs' so students can complete their coursework and obtain the Certificate they signed up for in the first place.
- Schools must provide proof of a valid Surety Bond, on the State Approved Form, at registration. A valid bond must be kept in force during the entire registration year.
- A bond calculation worksheet must be submitted with the application to document the required face value amount. If a bond will expire sometime during the registration year, the school must have a replacement bond in force immediately. There can be no lapse in bond coverage during the registration year. The SBOE must be named as the beneficiary on the Bond.
Are there any Alternatives to having a Surety Bond?
- Only proprietary schools must have surety bonds. (Accredited Colleges are covered through their accreditor's fiscal review process.)
- A school can mitigate calculated surety bond amounts by designing or restructuring training curriculum to offer shorter classes with a Course Completion Certificate after each session. Simply put, the smaller the pre-paid tuition, the smaller the surety bond requirement. (Depending on the business model, this may be preferable to a single year-long program where the Bond must cover the entire year's tuition.)
When are Criminal History Background Checks required on school employees?
Only Proprietary Schools that now have, or intend to employ persons who will conduct unsupervised contact with minors in the minor's home or at a secondary school, need do background checks, and then Only on those specific employees. (see Idaho Code §33-2404, & Admin Rule 08.01.11, section 302.07) The criminal history background checks are accomplished through the Idaho State Police.
Specific questions and situations should be clarified with the Coordinator prior to making application.
What exactly does the Attestation Page at the end of the Registration Application mean?
Each year, the CEO/Primary Idaho Official of the Institution or School must "Attest" (certify by signature or oath ...) that their school is in full compliance with state and federal law.
If, upon inspection, a school is found to be out of compliance it may be cause to issue a cease & desist order, revoke current registration, deny renewal of registration, or deny initial registration. This is especially important for schools that conduct a broad range of instruction which may involve numerous Training Curriculum Standards from several Idaho trade boards..
Are there any schools that do not have to register with the State Board?
Yes, per §33-2403(4) and Rule 08.01.11-sec200.04 & 300.04, some schools are exempt from registration, but are still perfectly legitimate schools.
If the school you're interested in is not listed contact the Coordinator. Currently, the SBOE exempts all cosmetology/barber, CNA, student driving, & real estate (including real estate appraisers) training programs which are all covered by other Idaho Boards or Commissions under Title 54, Idaho Code.
What is accreditation and why is that important to me?
Accreditation is the process by which the credibility and integrity of academic standards and programs of instruction are recognized, both regionally and nationally. There are several types of accreditation, but generally in order to be legitimate, schools must be accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Dept of Education (USDE) and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
SBOE requires both USDE & CHEA recognition before they will award degree granting authority in Idaho.
** Ask the school you're interested in to show you their accrediting agency's approval letter for the specific program of instruction you want to enroll in. General "institutional accreditation" is not the same thing: The school may have overall recognition, but if your specific program is not accredited, your coursework and degree may not be transferrable or useful in finding employment.
The SBOE does not accredit, certify, sanction or approve any specific course or program of instruction. Registration is not an endorsement of the institution itself or its academic programs. Schools and businesses may only advertize that they are "properly registered with SBOE."
Can non-degree career schools also be "accredited?"
Yes. It is possible for Proprietary Schools to be "accredited" at the Certificate level. However, the word "accredited" is often used rather loosely: in the case of most trade/career schools it usually means they meet some state or national governing board's curriculum or training standards, so their graduates may sit for certification exams. This is required before the state will issue an individual a license to practice that trade.
NOTE: Receiving a state license to individually practice a trade is not the same thing as having proper instructor qualifications and authority to run a school teaching the trade to other people. That specific authority is awarded after the school owner/operator/instructors have obtained their instructor certifications and have registered as a proprietary school with SBOE.
Must I have academic or training curriculum approval from someone or can I just write my own?
SBOE registration is not an approval of curriculum nor an endorsement of the school itself. All PS must have their training curriculum approved by the appropriate Idaho trade/professional board or commission.
If no Idaho board or commission exists, then the national standards of trade/professional training or certification will apply.
NOTE: The application attestation page requires the primary school official to "Attest" (certify by signature or oath) that they have reviewed and are in compliance with all applicable trade board training standards.
How long must school hold student records after the school closes/defaults, or an individual student's program of instruction is completed?
Currently, Idaho law does not require proprietary schools or private colleges to keep students records after they close. The OBSE does not hold records of closed schools.
As private business entities, it is inappropriate for these records to go to the State Archives. Therefore, it's important for current and former students to:
- Request a full & complete record of their academic and professional-technical coursework (signed & dated by a school official) when you graduate or leave the school. Always keep those records in a safe place for future reference.
- If a school you previously attended is still open & operating, and you have not already done so, contact them and request a complete-official set of academic records Now (even if you have to pay for them to be copied).
- Remember, the first thing any higher education institution will ask to see is transcripts of your past academic work; be sure you have it. Never assume the school will remain open and that your records will be there.
What is a diploma mill?
The term "diploma mill" refers to a school that offers, sells or issues college degrees, but in fact does not have the proper authority from the state to do so.
In the USA, there is no inherit right to grant college degrees, or teach for college credit. That authority is awarded only through the State Education Authority (SEA). There is only one SEA in every state. In Idaho it's the State Board of Education.
How can I tell a diploma mills from a legitimate school?
The SBOE web pages publish lists of all properly registered Postsecondary Educational Institutions and Proprietary Schools in Idaho. If the degree-granting college or certificate trade school you're interested in is not on that list, you should ask a lot more questions before enrolling. Contact the Coordinator about any particular school.
The private educational services world is a "buyer beware" market. Although there are many reputable businesses out there providing quality education & training for your money, some could be disorganized, ill-equipped, or even dishonest. Carefully investigate the school you're thinking of enrolling in. See the Guidence for Consumers section of the SBOE web page for more tips and ideas.
Legitimate schools always post clear addresses, phone numbers, web/email contacts, sometimes even names of school officials, on their web sites. Most also include accreditation information. If all you have is a contact form to fill in and 'someone will get back to you later" be very wary. Never give out personal info (bank account, credit card numbers, employer info, etc) or make any course work or financial commitment on the first contact.
Are degrees & credits from Unaccredited Institutions or Diploma Mills transferrable? Can I use that degree or credits to get a job or to enroll in more higher education?
Generally, no accredited higher education institutions will accept transfer credits or degrees from an unaccredited school or known diploma mill.
In some states it is even against the law to knowingly use false academic credentials for employment or educational purposes. Before you invest your time and money, you must know that the school you wish to attend is legitimate.
Does Idaho have a state Student Complaints Process independent of the Institutions?
You can find process here: Student Complaint Procedures