State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

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Private and Out-of-state Postsecondary Education (POPE)

The Private and Out-of-State Postsecondary Education (POPE) unit of the Academic Affairs division of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is responsible for the certification of private and out-of-state postsecondary educational institutions operating in Virginia. The POPE unit certifies and regulates 106 degree-granting institutions and 134 career-technical schools. These private universities, colleges, career colleges and vocational schools provide educational instruction to approximately 49,000 citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia on a full-time or part-time basis annually.

Mission Statement

To provide the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia access to reliable and valuable alternative higher educational opportunities and vocational training options by ensuring legal operations, ethical practices and quality education in the private postsecondary sector.


  • Protecting the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia from fraudulent or substandard educational institutions;
  • Ensuring institutions certified to operate in Virginia meet minimal academic and administrative capability standards;
  • Mediating and investigating student complaints;
  • Retaining student academic records from closed schools;
  • Serving as advocates for and educating the public on the benefits and opportunities available from the POPE institutions;
  • Administering the Student Tuition Guaranty Fund, which provides financial restitution to students injured by the closure of school previously certified to operate in Virginia.
How Do I?

POPE Staff
Sylvia Rosa-Casanova

Richard Cole
Compliance Specialist

Joseph Crook
Certification Coordinator

Sandra Freeman
Assistant Director

Monica Lewis
Fiscal Specialist

Tosha Robinson
Certification Specialist

Alfonso Wells
Compliance Investigator 

Kristin Whelan
Administrative Assistant 

Susan Yale
Compliance Specialist

© 2017 State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
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