The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 002 : POSTSECONDARY SCHOOLS(Cite as: 16 V.S.A. § 176)
§ 176. Postsecondary schools chartered in Vermont
(a) Applicability. Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, any postsecondary school that operates primarily or exclusively in the State of Vermont is subject to this section.
(b) Definitions. As used in this subchapter:
(1) "Postsecondary school" means any person who offers or operates a program of college or professional education for credit or a degree and enrolls or intends to enroll students.
(2) "Offer" includes the use in the name of an institution or in its promotional material of a term such as "college," "university," or "institute" that is intended to indicate that it is an institution that offers postsecondary education.
(3) "Degree" means any award that is given by a postsecondary school for completion of a program or course and that is designated by the term degree, associate, bachelor, baccalaureate, master's, or doctorate, or any similar award that the State Board includes by rule.
(4) "Operate" means to establish, keep, or maintain any facility or location from or through which education is offered or given, or educational degrees are offered or granted. The term includes contracting with any person to perform any such act.
(5) "Accredited" means accredited by any regional, national, or programmatic institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
(c) State Board approval.
(1) Every postsecondary school that is subject to this section shall:
(A) apply for a certificate of approval from the State Board prior to registering its name with the Secretary of State pursuant to Title 11, Title 11A, or Title 11B;
(B) apply for and receive a certificate of approval from the State Board prior to offering postsecondary credit-bearing courses or programs and prior to admitting the first student; and
(C) provide written notification to each applicant for admission or enrollment, on an application, enrollment, or registration form to be signed by the applicant, that credits earned at the school are transferable at the discretion of the receiving school.
(2) Every postsecondary school shall secure a certificate of degree-granting authority from the State Board before it confers or offers to confer a degree.
(d) Exemptions. The following are exempt from the requirements of this section except for the requirements of subdivision (c)(1)(C) of this section:
(1) Nondegree-granting and noncredit-granting programs of education sponsored by a trade, labor, business, or professional organization that are conducted solely for that organization's membership or for members of the particular industries or professions served by that organization.
(2) The University of Vermont and the Vermont State Colleges.
(3) Postsecondary schools currently licensed or approved by a Vermont State occupational licensing board.
(4) Postsecondary schools that are accredited. The following postsecondary institutions are accredited, meet the criteria for exempt status, and are authorized to operate educational programs beyond secondary education, including programs leading to a degree or certificate: Bennington College, Champlain College, College of St. Joseph, Goddard College, Green Mountain College, Landmark College, Marlboro College, Middlebury College, New England Culinary Institute, Norwich University, Saint Michael's College, SIT Graduate Institute, Southern Vermont College, Sterling College, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and Vermont Law School. This authorization is provided solely to the extent necessary to ensure institutional compliance with federal financial aid-related regulations, and it does not affect, rescind, or supersede any preexisting authorizations, charters, or other forms of recognition or authorization.
(5) Nondegree-granting and noncredit-granting postsecondary schools that offer only training in specific trades or vocations.
(6) Religious instruction that does not result in earning credits or a degree.
(e) Issuance. On proper application, the State Board shall issue a certificate of approval or a certificate of degree-granting authority, or both, to an applicant whose goals, objectives, programs, and resources, including personnel, curriculum, finances, and facilities, are found by the State Board to be adequate and appropriate for the stated purpose and for the protection of students and the public interest. The certificate shall be for a term not exceeding five years. The certificate may be subject to conditions, terms, or limitations.
(f) Renewal. Certificates under this section may be renewed on application in the same manner as originally issued.
(g) Revocation. Any certificate may be revoked by the State Board at any time for good cause relating to the conditions, terms, and limitations of approval.
(h) Advice. Prior to any action taken by the State Board with respect to any application for degree-granting authority, the Board shall obtain the advice of the Vermont Higher Education Council, Incorporated.
(i) The Board may adopt rules and perform investigations in order to effectuate the purposes of this section.
(j) In the event that a postsecondary school does not comply with the provisions of subsection (c) of this section or is denied the issuance of a certificate of approval or a certificate of degree-granting authority, the postsecondary school shall forthwith cease to operate.
(k) The Attorney General, upon request of the State Board, may bring an action to enjoin the operation of a postsecondary school that is operating in violation of this section.
(l) Any person, group, or entity, or any owner, officer, agent, or employee thereof, who willfully violates subsection (c) or (j) of this section shall be fined not to exceed $1,000.00 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. Each day's violation shall be a separate violation.
(m) Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit the State from participating in any interstate reciprocity agreement for the purpose of authorizing online postsecondary programs. For purposes of reciprocity between states for institutional authorization, the Secretary, or other Vermont agency as appropriate, shall investigate any complaints related to Vermont institutions participating in a recognized interstate reciprocity agreement. (Added 1981, No. 124 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 2, 1982; amended 1989, No. 263 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. June 20, 1990; 2001, No. 19, § 1; 2003, No. 107 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2011, No. 58, § 19, eff. May 31, 2011; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 23, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2013, No. 179 (Adj. Sess.), § E.500.4; 2017, No. 49, § 25, eff. May 23, 2017.)