Responses Last Confirmed:

Georgia Nonpublic Education Commission

Agency Contact

Laura Vieth, EdD
770-414-3306
laurav@gnpec.ga.gov

Additional Contact

Secretary of State Contact

Brad Raffensperger
404-656-2881
soscontact@sos.ga.gov
Topic

1: Important Agency Information to Note

a.
Provide any important information about your agency.

No response provided

Topic

2: Types of Educational Providers Authorized

a.
Indicate the types of institutions that your agency authorizes. Please provide a short explanation of any ambiguity in the comment section below.

_____   Public, in-state degree granting institutions
_X___  Public, out-of-state degree granting institutions        
_X___  Private, in-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions 
_X___  Private, out-of-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions    
_X___  Private, in-state, for-profit degree granting institutions
_X___  Private, out-of-state, for-profit degree granting institutions
_____  Public, in-state, non-degree granting institutions
_X___  Public, out-of-state, non-degree granting institutions
_X___  Non-degree, not-for profit institutions
_X___  Non-degree, for-profit institutions
_X___  Religious institutions
_X___  Tribally-controlled institutions
_____  Federal Institutions
_____  Municipal institutions

b.
Does your agency authorize specific academic programs offered by institutions, only institutions themselves, or both?

____ Institution   _____ Program   __X___ Both

c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

3: Accreditation

a.
Is accreditation required for an institution to be authorized in your state?

No

b.
If yes, please check all that apply as appropriate.

No response provided

Accreditation Required for:
____ Public, out-of-state degree granting institutions
____ Private, in-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions
____ Private, out-of-state, not-for-profit degree granting institutions
____ Private, in-state, for-profit degree granting institutions
____ Private, out-of-state, for-profit degree granting institutions
____ Public, in-state, non-degree granting institutions
____ Public, out-of-state, non-degree granting institutions
____ Non-degree, not-for profit institutions
____ Non-degree, for-profit institutions
____ Religious institutions
____ Tribally-controlled institutions
____ Federal Institutions
____ Municipal institutions

c.
Clarifying comments:

Unaccredited institutions are not permitted to use “College” or “University” in their names nor are they permitted to offer graduate degrees. Furthermore, out of state unaccredited institutions are required to hold state approval in their home states. If an institution of this type is unable to obtain documentation of approval (or exemption from approval), an explanatory statement including supporting documentation, if possible, may suffice.

Topic

4: Exemptions

a.
Are certain institutions or programs exempt by law or policy from your state authorization requirements?

Exemptions are granted for numerous purposes. Applicants should access the GNPEC reference O.C.G.A. (Official Code of Georgia Annotated) 20-3-250.3. at the following: https://gnpec.georgia.gov/book/%C2%A7-20-3-2503-educational-institutions-exempted-application-part

b.
If yes, for what types of institutions? Which types of programs?

No response provided

d.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

5: Authorization of Distance Education

a.
Does your agency require purely online programs offered by out-of-state institutions to be authorized without regard to physical presence?

Yes

b.
If not, does your agency determine whether an institution must be authorized based on a physical presence (“operating”) standard?

No response provided

c
Does your agency require correspondence study programs to be authorized without regard to physical presence?

Yes

d.
Clarifying comments:

To offer online education to Georgia residents, an institution must be a member of NC-SARA or be authorized by GNPEC. 

Topic

6: Physical Presence Policy

a.
If your agency uses a physical presence standard, how does your agency define physical presence?

Generally, an institution has physical presence when it operates a campus, branch instructional facility whether leased or owned, or administrative office within the boundaries of the state.  In addition, the following instances will create physical presence: 

Establish and /or maintain a telephone with a Georgia area code; 

Establish and / or maintain a postal address with a Georgia zip code; 

Market and/or recruit via media that originates in Georgia 

Maintain an Internet URL that originates in Georgia or utilizes an ISP based in Georgia; 

Employ an individual whose job is to recruit within the State of Georgia;

Employ faculty or individuals who are Georgia residents required to interact face-to-face with Georgia students.

Additionally, please note that any online enrollment of a Georgia resident requires GNPEC Authorization or SARA membership.

b.
Web link for physical presence definition.
c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

7: Student Complaints - SARA Participating Institutions

a.
Please describe the process for handling complaints about SARA participating Institutions.

Please see GA-SARA Complaint Rules on the GNPEC website: https://gnpec.georgia.gov/ga-sara-student-complaint-rules.

b.
Is the process handled all within your agency or do you divide consumer protection and student complaint duties dependent on the type of institution (Public, Private, Technical, etc.)?

GNPEC handles student complaints from GA-SARA institutions.

c.
Web link for student complaints – SARA participating institutions.
d.
Who is the contact person at your agency for receiving complaints?
e.
Clarifying comments:

GA-SARA complaints must be filed online, with supporting documents.  The GNPEC SARA Coordinator will contact the complainant.

Topic

8: Student Complaints - Non-SARA Participating Institutions

a.
Please describe the process for handling complaints about out-of-state postsecondary institutions or programs?

Please see GNPEC Student Complaint Rules and Form on the GNPEC website: https://gnpec.georgia.gov/student-complaints

b.
Is the process handled all within your agency or do you divide consumer protection and student complaint duties dependent on the type of institution (Public, Private, Technical, etc.)?

GNPEC handles student complaints of GNPEC authorized institutions as well as select exempted institutions.

c.
Does this complaint process extend to institutions not authorized by the agency that may enroll residents of the state (such as explicitly distance education programs with no physical presence or exempt institutions)?

Complaints against Exempt institutions within the State are processed pursuant to the official Complaint Procedure found on the website at:

www.gnpec.georgia.gov/student-complaints

Distance education complaints are processed according to the NC-SARA complaint procedure found in Section 4 of the SARA Policy Manual.

d.
Who is the contact person at your agency for receiving complaints?

Contact Name- Ms. Pat Neri
Title Program- Program Manager
Agency Address- 2082 E. Exchange Place, Suite 220, Tucker, GA 30084
Email- patn@gnpec.ga.gov
Phone- 770-414-3235
URL- https://gnpec.georgia.gov/student-resources/student-complaints/gnpec-student-complaint-form

f.
Clarifying comments:

Complaints, with supporting documents, must be filed online.

Topic

9: Surety Bonds

a.
Does your state require a Surety Bond for authorized out-of-state institutions?

Yes

c.
Clarifying comments:

For the first five years of authorization and the first five years following a change of ownership

Topic

10: Tuition Refund Policy

a.
Does your state have a Tuition Refund Policy Requirement?

Yes

b.
If yes, for what types of institutions?

All unaccredited authorized institutions must meet the Minimum Standard Refund criteria. While accredited institutions may use their own refund policy, GNPEC has the right to require changes should a sufficient number of complaints arise.

c.
Web link for tuition refund policy.
d.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

11: Student Tuition Recovery Fund

a.
Does your state have a Student Tuition Recovery Fund (or similar fund for school closure)?

Yes

b.
If yes, for what types of institutions?

Institutions authorized at the time of closure

c.
Web link for student tuition recovery fund.

No response provided

d.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

12: Reporting

a.
What kinds of information or data must an institution report to your agency as a condition for continued out-of-state authorization?

All authorized institutions must renew authorization annually.  Unaccredited institutions, whether in-state or out-of-state, have additional annual reporting requirements, which can be found here: https://gnpec.georgia.gov/documents/additional-requirements-unaccredited-institutions.

b.
How frequently do institutions report data?

Annually

c.
Is this information published or shared publicly?

Not at this time

e.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

13: Enforcement

a.
What are possible consequences of institutional non-compliance?

Institutions may be subject to fines, loss of GNPEC approval, and legal action.

b.
Web link for enforcement information.
c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

14: Application Process

a.
Please provide a short description of the application process to obtain state authorization.

Authorization involves an application evaluation process and the remittance of fees and bonding. Please read https://gnpec.georgia.gov/authorization-application for a more detailed outline regarding the process and its components. 

c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

15: Fees Associated with Authorization

a.
Is there an application fee associated with the authorization process?

Please see the GNPEC website for the Schedule of Fees: https://gnpec.georgia.gov/schedule-fees

b.
If yes, what is the fee or fee schedule?

No response provided

c.
Web link for fee information.
d.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

16: Records Retention

a.
When a school closes, what is the process your state uses to ensure that transcripts/records are kept available?

Authorized institutions as well as those exempted from authorization that close in Georgia must surrender student records to GNPEC upon demand.

b.
From what agency do students request their transcripts/records from a closed school?

Students may request records from a closed institution in Georgia from GNPEC by completing a Student Transcript Request Form: https://gnpec.georgia.gov/student-transcript-request

c.
Clarifying comments:

No response provided

Topic

17: Additional Information

a.
Is there anything else about the authorization process in your state that we and others ought to know about?

No response provided