(a) In establishing the criteria required by paragraph (2) of subsection (b) of Code Section 20-3-250.5, the commission shall observe and shall require that a nonpublic postsecondary educational institution must be maintained and operated, or, in the case of a new institution, it must demonstrate that it can be maintained and operated in compliance with the following minimum standards:

(1) That the quality and content of each course or program of instruction, training, or study are such as may reasonably and adequately achieve the stated objective for which the course or program is offered;

(2) That the institution has adequate space, equipment, library and physical facilities, instructional materials, and personnel to provide education of good quality;

(3) That the education and experience qualifications of directors, administrators, supervisors, and instructors are such as may reasonably ensure that the students will receive education consistent with the objectives of the course or program of study and that each director and instructor shall satisfactorily meet educational qualifications and other requirements established by the commission;

(4) That the institution provides students and other interested persons with a catalog or other written description containing information describing the programs offered; program objectives; length of program; schedule of tuition, fees, and all other charges and expenses necessary for completion of the course of study; cancellation and refund policies consistent with standards adopted by the commission; prior year’s enrollment, graduation, and job placement rates; and such other material facts concerning the institution and the program or course of instruction as are reasonably likely to affect the decision of the student to enroll therein, together with any other disclosures specified by the executive director or defined in the rules and regulations of the commission; and that such information is provided to prospective students prior to enrollment;

(5) That upon satisfactory completion of training, the student is given appropriate educational credentials by such institution indicating that such course or courses of instruction or study have been satisfactorily completed by said student;

(6) That adequate records are maintained by the institution to show attendance, progress, or grades and that satisfactory standards are enforced relating to attendance, progress, and performance;

(7) That the institution is maintained and operated in compliance with all pertinent ordinances and laws, including rules and regulations, relative to the safety and health of all persons upon the premises;

(8) That the institution is financially sound and capable of fulfilling its commitments to students;

(9) That the institution does not engage in advertising, sales, collection, credit, or other practices of any type which are false, deceptive, misleading, or unfair;

(10) That the chief executive officer, trustees, directors, owners, administrators, supervisors, agents, staff, and instructors are of good reputation and character and that each institution has an education director who meets the requirements established by the commission for such position which requirements shall be substantially related to the predominant course offerings at that institution;

(11) That the student housing owned, maintained, or approved by the institution, if any, is appropriate, safe, and adequate and meets all local fire, safety, and health codes;

(12) That the institution has and maintains a reasonable and proper policy, consistent with standards adopted by the commission, for the refund of the unused portion of tuition, fees, housing or dormitory fees, and any other charges in the event a student enrolled by the institution fails to begin a course or withdraws or is discontinued therefrom prior to completion, which policy shall take into account those costs to the institution that are not diminished by the failure of the student to enter or complete the course of instruction;

(13) That the institution maintains a policy of allowing any student a minimum of 72 hours from the date of the contract or agreement to cancel any contract or rescind any agreement to become a student at the institution and that in the event of any such cancellation or rescission, the student shall receive a refund of the total tuition and fees, if any, paid to the institution at the time of or in connection with the execution of the contract or agreement and that such policy shall be a clearly stated part of any written contract or agreement required of students attending the institution; and

(14) That the institution posts continuously in a conspicuous place a notice, in such form as required by the commission, which sets forth the procedures for filing a complaint with the commission for any alleged violation of this part.

(b) In lieu of the criteria set forth in subsection (a) of this Code section, or in addition thereto, the executive director, for good cause shown and with the advice of the commission, may amend, modify, substitute, or alter the terms of such criteria as necessary and advisable because of the specialized nature and objective of the operation of the postsecondary educational institution.

(c) Institutions otherwise exempt from certain provisions of this part under paragraphs (7), (10), (11), and (13) of subsection (a) of Code Section 20-3-250.3 shall be required to meet the standards of financial soundness and being capable of fulfilling commitments to students as provided in paragraph (8) of subsection (a) of this Code section, and, because of such requirement, each such institution shall provide the commission with audited financial statements as performed by an independent certified public accountant and at such times as the commission shall require. The commission may impose a fee to be paid by such institutions to offset the cost of receiving and reviewing such audited financial statements. Institutions otherwise exempt from certain provisions of this part under subsection (c) of Code Section 20-3-250.3 shall be required to submit annual financial reports to the commission when applying for annual renewal of exemption or authorization using the reporting format provided by the commission. In addition thereto, institutions otherwise exempt from certain provisions of this part under paragraph (10) of subsection (a) of Code Section 20-3-250.3 shall be subject to the requirements of Code Sections 20-3-250.8, 20-3-250.10, and 20-3-250.27. The reports to the Governor and to the General Assembly required by subsection (h) of Code Section 20-3-250.27 shall include a summary of the commission’s findings from its review of audited financial statements required by this subsection.

(d) The commission shall be authorized to adopt rules pertaining to the content and format of financial reports to be submitted by postsecondary educational institutions applying for authorization to operate in this state.

HISTORY: Code 1981, § 20-3-250.6, enacted by Ga. L. 1990, p. 1166, § 3; Ga. L. 1991, p. 687, § 2; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1657, § 3; Ga. L. 1992, p. 2615, § 3; Ga. L. 1993, p. 91, § 20; Ga. L. 1994, p. 1282, § 4; Ga. L. 2021, p. 505, § 2/HB 152; Ga. L. 2022, p. 378, § 4/SB 333.

The 2021 amendment, effective July 1, 2021, substituted “(11), and (13)” for “(11), (12), and (14)” near the beginning of the first sentence of subsection (c).

The 2022 amendment, effective July 1, 2022, redesignated the former introductory language of subsection (a) and former paragraph (a)(1) as the introductory language of subsection (a), substituted “that a nonpublic” for “compliance with the following minimum standards: (1) A nonpublic” in the introductory language of subsection (a), redesignated former subparagraphs (a)(1)(A) through (a)(1)(N) as present paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(14), respectively, substituted “the institution does not” for “neither the institution nor its agents” in paragraph (a)(9), inserted “agents,” in paragraph (a)(10); deleted former paragraph (a)(2), which read: “An applicant for an agent’s permit shall be an individual of good reputation and character and shall represent only a nonpublic postsecondary educational institution or institutions which meet the minimum standards established in this Code section and the criteria established under paragraph (2) of subsection (b) of Code Section 20-3-250.5.”; and substituted “paragraph (8) of subsection (a)” for “subparagraph (a)(1)(H)” in the first sentence in subsection (c).