Protocol for Opening a College in New York State


Introduction

In New York State, establishing a college or university requires authorization from the Board of Regents to confer degrees. The Regents will consider granting degree authority after the State Education Department conducts in-depth and comprehensive academic, fiscal, and planning reviews. The reviews determine whether the institution and its proposed programs meet the standards of quality for colleges set forth in Education Law, the Rules of the Board of Regents, and Commissioner’s Regulations. The Regents also consider whether adequate demand and need exists for the proposed college and programs.

The following guidance reviews the standards, requirements, expectations, and processes for establishing a college and provides connections to appropriate sections of law and regulation. An interested entity should review all of this information first  and affirm its commitment to these standards before contacting the Office of College and University Evaluation (OCUE).

Protocol

Before reviewing the application protocol, please note the following information....

Applications to open a college in New York will be accepted only during the following periods:

  • The annual application period for out-of-state entities seeking to establish a college or university in New York is January 1 - February 1. Please note that applications received from out-of-state entities at any other time will not be reviewed or retained.

  • The annual application period for New York entities seeking to establish a college or university in New York is July 1 -August 1. Please note that applications received from New York entities at any other time will not be reviewed or retained.

Time Frame for Review:

The complete process for review of a new application for degree-granting authority will take a year or longer depending on the number of pending applications and other Office priorities. The Department is committed to conducting a preliminary check of the materials received within sixty (60) business days of the close of the application window. A reply letter will indicate whether the proposal will move to full review or is incomplete and has been withdrawn from further consideration. If the proposal proceeds, OCUE will provide an estimate  of when the full review will commence based on pre-existing office commitments.

Complete Proposals:
The proposal should be fully developed and address all required elements. It is intended to apprise staff about the feasibility and likelihood of compliance with New York’s standards for approval. In addition, the proposal should include an analysis that demonstrates unmet need and/or student demand for the proposed activities. Incomplete materials may result in denial of the application. Material in excess of the required elements will not be reviewed.

Advertising:
Institutions may not advertise the existence of an institution or its programs in New York State until official approval is received.

Contact Information:

Office of College and University Evaluation
New York State Education Department

89 Washington Avenue
Education Building Addition Room 969
Albany, NY  12234

Telephone: 518: 474-2593

FAX: 518: 486-2779

E-mail ocueinfo@mail.nysed.gov

 

Required Components of a Proposal to Establish a College

    1. Institutional Self-Study Word Document Image Icon (120KB)
    2. Report of the institution’s external reviewers, selected in consultation with OCUE, along with the institution’s response to the reviews
    3. Responses to all questions in the document entitled “Information Needed for Reviewing Proposals for Degree Authority”
    4. Program Registration: in addition to reviewing the institution as a whole, OCUE must evaluate each proposed program of study. Please review OCUE's program registration guidance document for more information about program registration standards and expectations. A complete program registration application will be needed for each proposed program.
    5. Certification of Continued Compliance of the Institution Applying for Permanent Authority to Grant Degrees


An organization wishing to establish a college that grants doctoral degrees should contact OCUE at (518) 474-1551 for information about additional requirements and protocols.

Regulatory Context


Application Procedures and Review Protocols for All Proposed Colleges

All organizations (proprietary and not-for profit) seeking degree authority must submit a complete proposal to OCUE.

In addition, non-profit applicants need to submit a petition for a provisional charter to the Education Department’s Office of Counsel; for-profit applicants who meet the conditions noted above need to submit a request to OCUE for Commissioner’s consent to amendment of a certificate of incorporation to be filed with the NYS Department of State External Link Image Icon.

Note: special provisions apply to proposed for-profit institutions.

OCUE begins its comprehensive academic review through a review of written documents. In addition, the Department conducts a thorough financial review. When the reviews of written documents and financial data have been completed, OCUE will schedule visit(s) to existing and/or proposed sites by staff and peer reviewers with appropriate expertise. At the time of the site visit, all elements of the degree-granting program(s) must be in place, including a core of full-time faculty. If the entity does not have all elements in place, the site visit may be deferred at OCUE's discretion.

OCUE sends the applicant written confirmation of the visit dates and announces the members of the proposed team, asking about any concerns with team members and requesting that team members be sent copies of the proposal materials. Any negative information received prior to the visit that affects the institution’s current circumstances may delay the visit.

After the site visit, OCUE prepares and sends the applicant a draft site visit report of findings and recommendations. The institution then reviews the draft report and responds in writing with its comments and/or corrections of fact. Following the review of the institution’s response, the Department will issue a final report.

The comprehensive review takes the following factors into consideration as well:

  • status of any State or Federal audit disallowances of student aid funds;
  • recent review findings by any governmental or accrediting agency;
  • compliance of existing school(s), owner(s), and officers with State and Federal laws and requirements; record of felony convictions;
  • extent to which proposed institution meets quality standards in rules and regulations (academic and financial).

A negative finding concerning any of these factors will result in rejection or delay of the proposal.


Initial Authorization

When all materials are in order, the academic and financial reviews have been completed, and it appears that all standards and requirements are met, OCUE conducts a planning review that includes a canvass of all colleges in the region of the proposed institution. Comments from these institutions will be shared with the proposing entity for response as needed. A potentially affected college may request a public hearing, which would be scheduled by the Department and chaired by a member of the Board of Regents.

Upon completion of the planning review, the Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education sends the Commissioner a summary of the proposal and an analysis of comments with a recommendation regarding degree-conferring authorization. The Commissioner’s office, in turn, forwards the recommendation to the Regents.

Upon approval by the Regents, the Deputy Commissioner advises the applicant of the Regents vote and OCUE registers the degree program(s). The Regents would issue a provisional charter to a non-profit institution; in the case of a for-profit institution, the Regents would grant provisional authority to award degrees.


Denial of Initial Authorization

If the full proposal submitted by the proposed institution does not meet registration standards, or if the Board of Regents votes to deny authorization of that institution, OCUE will inform the applicant that the proposal is rejected and the registration of programs denied.

In accordance with section 52.1(l) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, if initial program registration is denied, OCUE will give written notice of the denial of registration with the specific reasons for the denial and advise of the right to appeal pursuant to section 52.24 of the Regulations. As specified in the regulation, the applicant has 15 days after receiving notice of denial of registration of proposed curricula to notify the Commissioner of Education in writing of its intention to appeal. Within 90 days of submitting its intention to appeal, the applicant must submit its appeal to the Commissioner, presenting all evidence and information pertinent to the case. The Commissioner will issue a determination on the appeal within 60 days of receipt.

If the Commissioner denies the applicant’s appeal and affirms the denial of initial registration, any resubmission by the applicant will be treated as a new proposal.


Follow Up After Initial Authorization

The initial registration letter will advise that no major initiatives may be undertaken within two years of receiving degree authority. Major initiatives are defined as new programs, new degrees, new degree levels, and off-campus locations. Following notice of the registration of the initial programs, the new college may advertise the degree programs and admit students.

  • The institution will be asked to submit a progress report after one year.The institution may contact OCUE to set up a meeting to discuss matters such as developing a standard of progress and obligations to be met, e.g., annual fiscal reports.

  • Within two years of the first offering of the registered programs, OCUE will conduct a follow-up visit to determine whether the college is meeting standards. No new programs may be registered until the follow-up review has judged the existing registered programs to be in compliance with regulatory standards.


Absolute Charter/Permanent Authority

At the expiration of the period for which a provisional charter was issued to a non-profit college, the institution may petition the Regents to have its provisional charter made absolute. Until an absolute charter is granted, the Regents award the degrees to students completing the registered programs. As noted in the section “Special Provisions for Proposed For-Profit Colleges,” a for-profit institution with provisional authority to grant degrees may apply to OCUE for permanent authority to grant degrees at least 12 months prior to the expiration of its provisional authority to confer degrees. (Typically, provisional authority is granted for five years.)

Special Provisions for Proposed For-Profit Colleges

If an in-State, for-profit organization wishes to establish a for-profit (proprietary) college, it must first apply to the Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision for licensure as a non-degree, post-secondary school. It must also be able to demonstrate that it has been in successful operation as a licensed private school under the current ownership for a minimum of two years and has graduated at least one class in the curriculum for which degree authority and registration are sought. An out-of-state proprietary college that wishes to establish a campus in New York State does not need to meet this provision.

Provisional Degree Authority

A proprietary institution seeking degree authority that has met the conditions in the previous paragraph must first receive provisional authority from the Board of Regents to confer degrees.

Section 3.58(c)(2) of the Rules of the Board of Regents sets forth the four areas in which the Department seeks evidence of a proprietary institution’s capacity to operate a degree-granting institution under provisional authority:

  1. evidence confirming the prospective owner's capacity to operate the institution in compliance with the Education Law, program registration standards set forth in Part 52 of this Title, other Rules of the Board of Regents and Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, other State statutes and regulations, and Federal statutes and regulations, relevant to the operation of degree-granting institutions;
  2. evidence confirming that the institution has sufficient financial resources to ensure satisfactory conduct of degree programs and achievement of the institution's stated educational goals;
  3. evidence that the individuals having ownership or control of the institution have experience operating an educational institution or other business or enterprise which demonstrates the prospective owner's capacity to operate a degree-granting institution;
  4. evidence that that the individuals having ownership or control of the institution have not engaged in fraudulent or deceptive practices.


Permanent Degree Authority

At least 12 months prior to the end of the provisional authority period, the institution may apply to OCUE for permanent authority to confer degrees. Section 3.58(d)(2)(i) of the Rules of the Board of Regents sets out the five areas in which the Department seeks evidence of compliance in its review of an application for permanent authority:

  1. evidence confirming that the institution is in compliance with the Education Law, program registration standards set forth in Part 52 of this Title, other rules of the Board of Regents and regulations of the Commissioner of Education, other State statutes and regulations, and Federal statutes and regulations, relevant to the operation of degree-granting institutions;
  2. evidence confirming that the institution has sufficient financial resources to ensure satisfactory conduct of its degree programs and achievement of its stated educational goals;
  3. evidence that the individuals having ownership or control of the institution are operating the proprietary college in an effective manner and that the degree programs meet their educational objectives;
  4. evidence that the individuals having ownership or control of the institution have not engaged in fraudulent or deceptive practices; and
  5. evidence that substantiates the institution's beneficial contributions to the community or communities it serves.

The information in the document entitled “Certification of Continued Compliance of the Institution Applying for Permanent Degree Authority” sets out the specific areas of compliance that OCUE will review. As part of its application the institution must provide this certification. The institution should be prepared to provide evidence to OCUE to substantiate its compliance.

OCUE may follow-up its review of the application for permanent authority with one or more site visits and may request additional follow-up information. Following its reviews, OCUE will make a recommendation to the Board of Regents concerning granting of permanent authority to grant degrees. The Board of Regents will determine whether to grant permanent authority; extend the provisional authority for an additional period of up to five years; or deny continuing degree authority.

Last Updated: January 28, 2014