PA 18-33—sSB 352

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee

AN ACT EXTENDING THE MORATORIUM ON APPROVAL OF A CERTAIN NUMBER OF PROGRAMS OF INDEPENDENT INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

SUMMARY: This act extends certain independent higher education institutions' exemption from the Office of Higher Education's (OHE's) approval process for new programs and program modifications for two years until July 1, 2020. As under existing law, the exemption applies to such institutions if they:

1. are eligible to participate in the Federal Family Education Loan program;

2. have a financial responsibility score of at least 1.5, as determined by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), for the most recent fiscal year for which data is available; and

3. have been located in Connecticut and accredited as degree-granting institutions in good standing for at least 10 years by a federally recognized regional accrediting association (see BACKGROUND).

For each of these institutions, the act also limits the new program exemption to 12 programs per academic year and requires the institution to apply for approval for any additional programs.

Under the act, exempt institutions must file with OHE a program action form created by the office prior to students enrolling in (1) any new program or (2) any program being modified.

By law, exempt institutions must annually file with OHE a description of any new programs and the institution's current program approval process. The act requires this filing to also include all actions the institution's governing board took concerning approving the new programs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2018

BACKGROUND

Financial Responsibility Score

According to the USDE, the composite score reflects the overall relative financial health of institutions along a scale from -1 to 3. A score of 1.5 or more indicates that the institution is considered financially responsible.

Independent Institution of Higher Education

By law, an “independent institution of higher education” is a nonprofit higher education institution established in Connecticut that (1) has degree granting authority, (2) has its main campus in-state, (3) is not included in the Connecticut public higher education system and (4) is not primarily training students for a religious vocation (CGS 10a-173).

Currently Exempt Institutions

In practice, Connecticut College, Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and Yale University are already exempt from OHE's program approval authority. These institutions, classified by OHE as national independents, are longstanding institutions that predate the state's regulation of postsecondary academic programs. Additionally, the institutions' charters give the schools the authority to decide which degrees to confer and do not require state approval for additional degrees.