Virginia residents who attend postsecondary institutions certified to operate in Virginia by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia are afforded certain guarantees and protections according to Virginia’s laws and regulations. These provisions include:
- Protections through the Student Tuition Guaranty Fund (STGF), which was designed to reimburse tuition paid by students attending certified schools that cease to operate, prohibiting students from completing their program of study. In the event of the closure of a certified school, SCHEV will:
Assurance that credits earned at out-of-state postsecondary institutions with physical presence in Virginia will transfer to the school’s principal location or another branch campus as part of an existing degree, certificate, or diploma program offered by the school; and
Guarantee that SCHEV staff will investigate and respond to all written and signed complaints and inquires concerning certified institutions.
- Coordinate the enrollment of effected students in another certified institution that offers a comparable program, at no additional charge to the students, so that students may complete their program of study; or
- Reimburse students for the unearned portion of tuition paid to the school, if a comparable school cannot be secured to allow them to complete their program of study.
Certified schools are required to adhere to a range of policies designed to protect students and their investments in higher education. Those policies include, but are not limited to:
- Instructional faculty must possess appropriate credentials in the discipline being taught or qualify by virtue of professional or scholarly achievement;
- Elective and required courses are offered in a schedule and in a sequence that enables both full-time and part-time students to complete the program in a reasonable period of time;
- Institutions have a continual curriculum development plan, ensuring programs offered are relevant to the current employment market and which measures the school’s effectiveness in adequately preparing students to gainfully enter the workforce upon graduation;
- Assurance that courses offered conform to state, federal, trade, or manufacturing standards of training for those occupational fields in which established standards exist;
- Availability of student completion/graduation information, as well as placement information for certain institutions, upon request;
- Availability of policy documents that define the minimum requirements for admission, as well as describe the school’s transfer policy, refund policy, students’ rights and responsibilities, and the grievance policy;
- Disclosure of information related to financial aid programs, school accreditation status, requirements for satisfactory program completion, and tuition, fees and other related charges;
- School maintains records that demonstrate that it is financially sound, exercises proper management, financial controls and business practices, and can fulfill its commitments to education or training;
- Instructional faculty are accessible to students for academic or course advising at times outside of the course’s regularly scheduled class hours; and
- Access to a library with a collection, staff, services, equipment, and facilities that are adequate and appropriate for the purpose and enrollment of the school.
Please note that Virginia law allows for certain postsecondary institutions operating in Virginia to be exempt from the requirements of certification and SCHEV oversight. Students attending such exempt institutions are not entitled to the provisions noted above through SCHEV. Click to see a complete listing of Virginia institutions, certified as well as exempt.