Connecticut Seal

House Bill No. 5072

Public Act No. 16-44

AN ACT CONCERNING HIGHER EDUCATION CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subdivision (1) of section 10a-22a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2016):

(1) "Private occupational school" means a person, board, association, partnership, corporation, limited liability company or other entity offering instruction in any form or manner in any trade, industrial, commercial, service, professional or other occupation for any remuneration, consideration, reward or promise of whatever nature, including, but not limited to, a hospital-based occupational school, or any program, school or entity offering postsecondary instruction in barbering or hairdressing, except "private occupational school" shall not include (A) instruction offered under public supervision and control; (B) instruction conducted by a firm or organization solely for the training of its own employees or members; or (C) instruction offered by a school authorized by the General Assembly to confer degrees;

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2016) As used in this section and sections 3 to 5, inclusive, and section 7 of this act:

(1) "Institution of higher education" has the same meaning as provided in section 10a-34 of the general statutes;

(2) "Private occupational school" has the same meaning as provided in section 10a-22a of the general statutes, as amended by this act; and

(3) "Student cohort" means a group of students who enroll at the same period of time in the same certificate program.

Sec. 3. (Effective July 1, 2016) The Board of Regents for Higher Education, in collaboration with the Office of Higher Education, shall develop a written definition for all sub-baccalaureate certificates earned on a for-credit or noncredit basis and awarded by an institution of higher education or private occupational school in the state for the purpose of creating consistency among the various sub-baccalaureate certificate programs. Not later than January 1, 2017, the president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education shall submit, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, a report containing such written definition to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to higher education.

Sec. 4. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2016) (a) Each institution of higher education and private occupational school in the state shall submit data for the prior academic year to the Office of Higher Education, in a uniform format prescribed by said office, regarding its for-credit sub-baccalaureate programs and the types of for-credit certificates it offers not later than January 1, 2018, and annually thereafter, and regarding its noncredit sub-baccalaureate certificate programs and the types of noncredit certificates it offers not later than January 1, 2019, and annually thereafter. Such data shall include, but need not be limited to, the following for each sub-baccalaureate certificate program:

(1) Name and subject matter area of such program;

(2) Total enrollment in such program;

(3) Any entry-level requirements for enrollment in such program;

(4) Number and type of certificates awarded by such program;

(5) Tuition and fees charged for completion of such program in the time period prescribed by such program;

(6) Estimated range of costs relating to the purchase of books and supplies, unless such costs are included as part of the tuition and fees of such institution or school for such program;

(7) Median loan debt incurred by students who complete such program, to the extent such information has been reported to the financial aid office of the institution of higher education or private occupational school offering such program, separately by Title IV loans and other education debt, including private and institutional loans;

(8) Basic demographic information, to the extent available, of the students enrolled in such program, including, but not limited to, gender, age, race and ethnicity;

(9) Percentage of students in each student cohort who completed such program in the time period prescribed by such program;

(10) Whether there is a clear pathway from successful completion of such program to enrollment in a related associate degree program;

(11) Whether such program leads to a credential recognized by the industry for which such program prepares a student;

(12) Whether a student may combine the certificate awarded upon successful completion of such program with any other certificate awarded upon the successful completion of another sub-baccalaureate certificate program in order to achieve a heightened level of qualification for a particular trade or occupation;

(13) Average length of time to complete such program;

(14) Employment rates, to the extent available, for students who have completed such program at six months after completion of such program;

(15) Student cohort pass rate, to the extent available, for national certification programs; and

(16) Student cohort licensure rate, to the extent available, for positions requiring the certificate and state licensure.

(b) The Office of Higher Education shall collect for each sub-baccalaureate certificate program offered by an institution of higher education or private occupational school in the state (1) the average starting salary for entry-level positions requiring the certificate, and (2) the average salary for jobs requiring the certificate, based on available Labor Department statistics, for each for-credit program, not later than January 1, 2018, and annually thereafter, and for each noncredit program, not later than January 1, 2019, and annually thereafter.

(c) Not later than January 1, 2020, and annually thereafter, the Office of Higher Education shall compile the data submitted pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and collected pursuant to subsection (b) of this section for purposes of comparing the sub-baccalaureate certificate programs offered by the institutions of higher education and private occupational schools and determining (1) which programs are similar to other programs, (2) student interest in each program and similar programs, and (3) the necessity of offering each program. Not later than July 1, 2020, and annually thereafter, said office shall make such data available on its Internet web site for the purpose of enabling a student or prospective student to make an informed decision about whether to enroll in a sub-baccalaureate certificate program and, if so, which program is the best fit for such student.

Sec. 5. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2016) Not later than July 1, 2019, and annually thereafter, the Office of Higher Education shall develop and post on its Internet web site a one-page fact sheet for each sub-baccalaureate certificate program offered by each institution of higher education and private occupational school in the state. Such fact sheet shall contain data submitted and collected pursuant to section 4 of this act, including, but not limited to, tuition, fees, costs of books and supplies, graduation and, to the extent available, job placement rates and average student debt. Not later than seven days after the office posts the fact sheet on its Internet web site, and annually thereafter, each institution of higher education and private occupational school shall make such fact sheet available to its current and prospective students by means, including, but not limited to, posting such fact sheet on its Internet web site.

Sec. 6. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2016) (a) The Board of Regents for Higher Education, under the direction of its chief academic officer, shall establish a working group comprised of deans of continuing education programs, or their designees, at the regional community-technical colleges to review all of the noncredit sub-baccalaureate certificate programs offered by each regional community-technical college for purposes of designing a uniform naming convention for such programs. Not later than January 1, 2019, the working group shall design the uniform naming convention to enable students to distinguish between noncredit certificate programs with similar yet varied requirements within the same field of study. Any programs that vary shall be uniformly designated with indications of different, enhanced or more demanding requirements.

(b) Not later than February 1, 2019, and periodically thereafter as prescribed by the Board of Regents for Higher Education, the working group shall review the tuition of uniformly named noncredit sub-baccalaureate certificate programs leading to the same qualifications to determine if any cost variations in the tuition and fees for such program are reasonable.

(c) Not later than March 1, 2019, the president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education shall report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to higher education regarding the uniform naming convention designed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and the determination made from the tuition review required under subsection (b) of this section.

Sec. 7. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2016) Not later than July 1, 2019, the Office of Higher Education shall develop a program to annually review not less than a sample of student data from all for-credit and noncredit sub-baccalaureate certificate programs offered by the institutions of higher education and the private occupational schools. Said office shall not disclose any personally identifiable information of any student obtained as a result of performing the annual review.

Approved May 26, 2016