Federal On-ground Ruling Information

State Authorization Regulations “On-ground” Rule 34 CFR § 600.9(a, b)

State of California requirements:
  a) The State must authorize an institution by name to operate educational programs beyond secondary education.
  b) The State must have a process applicable to all institutions, except tribal and Federal institutions, to review and appropriately act on complaints concerning the institution, including enforcement of applicable State laws.

CA Status: CA assigned Bureau of Private Post-secondary Education (BPPE) as the agency that will contract with CA institutions regarding complaint process.

Complaint process § 34 CFR 668.43(b) Requirements

Institutions, including the University of San Francisco, must:

  • Make available for review to its students and prospective students, upon request, a copy of the documents describing the institution’s accreditation and its State, Federal, or tribal approval or licensing.
  • Provide its students or prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its:
  • Accreditor (WSCUC); and
  • State approval or licensing entity (BPPE) and any other relevant State official or agency that would appropriately handle a student’s complaint.
  • Make consumer information available on the institution’s website.
  • A link to a non-institutional website will satisfy requirement
  • Must be accessible from institution’s website
  • Must be prominently displayed and accurately described
  • Consumer information should be provided for all students, including distance education.
  • Information must be for every State in which the institution is physically located.

Distance Learning Regulations 34 CFR § 600.9 (c)

  • The regulation requires institutions to demonstrate that it has the proper approvals in each state that it enrolled students at a distance.
  • The development and growth of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) was greatly influenced by the issuance of this regulation.
  • Federal Ruling was vacated on a technicality, 2011 (APSCU v Duncan and ED).
  • The effort to revive it through negotiated rulemaking last year was unsuccessful. Institutions must comply with each state’s regulation for authorization of distance education.

As it relates to USF:

The On‐Ground Rule — 34 CFR §§600.9 (a) and (b)

State authorization 
California must authorize an institution by name to operate educational programs beyond secondary education to handle complaints.

  • California identified the Bureau of Private Post-secondary Education (BPPE) as the agency for handling complaints in the State of California.
  • USF is exempt from BPPE approval for accreditation because USF is accredited by WSCUC.
  • USF contracted BPPE to handle complaints as recommended by WSCUC.

Complaint Policy Requirements
USF must provide and publish information regarding

On‐ground Programs Outside Home State
USF must comply with regulations as out lined if an on‐ground degree program offers 50% or more of its program face‐to‐face in a state outside of California.

  • USF does not have any on‐ground degree programs at this time offering 50% or more of its program face‐to‐face in another state outside of California.

Distance Learning -­‐ 34 CFR §§600.9 (c)
USF must comply with each state’s regulation for authorization of distance learning by:

  • Obtaining authorization in a state where USF is required to be authorized as defined in each state’s regulations where physical presence often provides the trigger for authorization.
  • Disclosing the applicable complaint agency in any state; and
  • Accurately representing USF’s approval status in each state.

At the time of issuance of this document, California is not a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) State.

34 CFR §§600.9 State authorization (a)(1) 

An institution described under §§600.4, 600.5, and 600.6 is legally authorized by a State if the State has a process to review and appropriately act on complaints concerning the institution including enforcing applicable State laws, and the institution meets the provisions of paragraphs (a)(1)(i), (a)(1)(ii), or (b) of this section.

(i)(A) The institution is established by name as an educational institution by a State through a charter, statute, constitutional provision, or other action issued by an appropriate State agency or State entity and is authorized to operate educational programs beyond secondary education, including programs leading to a degree or certificate. 
(B) The institution complies with any applicable State approval or licensure requirements, except that the State may exempt the institution from any State approval or licensure requirements based on the institution's accreditation by one or more accrediting agencies recognized by the Secretary or based upon the institution being in operation for at least 20 years. (ii) If an institution is established by a State on the basis of an authorization to conduct business in the State or to operate as a nonprofit charitable organization, but not established by name as an educational institution under paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, the institution — 
(A) By name, must be approved or licensed by the State to offer programs beyond secondary education, including programs leading to a degree or certificate; and 
(B) May not be exempt from the State's approval or licensure requirements based on accreditation, years in operation, or other comparable exemption.

(2) The Secretary considers an institution to meet the provisions of paragraph (a)(1) of this section if the institution is authorized by name to offer educational programs beyond secondary education by — 
(i) The Federal Government; or 
(ii) As defined in 25 U.S.C. 1802 (2), an Indian tribe, provided that the institution is located on tribal lands and the tribal government has a process to review and appropriately act on complaints concerning an institution and enforces applicable tribal requirements or laws. 
(b)(1) Notwithstanding paragraph (a)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section, an institution is considered to be legally authorized to operate educational programs beyond secondary education if it is exempt from State authorization as a religious institution under the State constitution or by State law.

(2) For purposes of paragraph (b)(1) of this section, a religious institution is an institution that — 
(i) Is owned, controlled, operated, and maintained by a religious organization lawfully operating as a nonprofit religious corporation; and 
(ii) Awards only religious degrees or certificates including, but not limited to, a certificate of Talmudic studies, an associate of Biblical studies, a bachelor of religious studies, a master of divinity, or a doctor of divinity. 
(c) If an institution is offering post-secondary education through distance or correspondence education to students in a State in which it is not physically located or in which it is otherwise subject to State jurisdiction as determined by the State, the institution must meet any State requirements for it to be legally offering post-secondary distance or correspondence education in that State. An institution must be able to document to the Secretary the State's approval upon request.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1001 and 1002) 
[75 Mod.date 7/2/15 FR 66946, Oct. 29, 2010]