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The Florida Statutes

The 2000 Florida Statutes

Title XVI
EDUCATION
Chapter 246
Nonpublic Postsecondary Institutions
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Section 246.084, Florida Statutes 2000

1246.084  Authorization.--

(1)  A nonpublic college shall not be required to apply for a license upon compliance with this section and submission of data required by this section provided that none of the students of such college who are enrolled in Florida receive state or federal financial aid for education.

(a)  Colleges receiving authorization under this section may only offer educational programs that prepare students for religious vocations as ministers, professionals, or laypersons in the following categories: ministry, counseling, theology, education, administration, music, fine arts, media communications, and social work.

(b)  The religious vocation must predominantly appear on the face of the degree and on the college's transcript.

(c)  The titles of degrees issued by the college must include a religious modifier which must immediately precede, or be included within, any of the following titles: Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy. The religious modifier must be placed on the title line of the degree.

(d)  For purposes of this section, one semester credit hour of study is 15 academic hours or its equivalent. The following minimum credit hours are required for awarding the following degrees:

1.  Associate degree, with no fewer than 60 semester hours or the equivalent.

2.  Bachelor's degree, with no fewer than 120 semester hours or the equivalent.

3.  Master's degree, with no fewer than 24 semester hours, or the equivalent, beyond the bachelor's degree.

4.  Doctoral degree, with no fewer than 60 semester hours, or the equivalent, beyond the bachelor's degree.

(e)  The following data must be submitted annually to the board: college name, address, telephone number, and accreditation, if any; denomination, church, or religious affiliation; list of all degree titles with their religious vocation major; and a current copy of the college's catalog and consumer practice information listed in paragraph (f).

(f)  The board shall collect annually from each college authorized pursuant to this section the following descriptive inventory of consumer practices:

1.  A description of the college's policies and procedures regarding the recruitment and admission of students.

2.  The sources and kinds of financial assistance available and the specific manner by which students are informed of their responsibilities with respect to receiving assistance and repaying loans.

3.  The placement assistance provided by the college, including any claims concerning job placement rates.

4.  Copies of all advertising published on behalf of the college during the previous year. If the college claims accreditation, it shall indicate whether or not that accreditation is approved by the United States Department of Education and if such accreditation is disclosed in all advertisements.

5.  A copy of the college's refund policy. The refund policy must provide students with a minimum of 3 working days from the date a student signs an enrollment contract or financial agreement with a college for the student to cancel the contract and receive a full refund of any tuition or registration fees paid. The refund policy must be prominently displayed on the contract form.

6.  Evidence that the college has provided its students with a clear and specific statement regarding the transferability of credits to and from other colleges, institutes, seminaries, and universities.

(g)  The college shall include with the data required by paragraphs (e) and (f), a sworn affidavit, signed by its chief administrative officer, affirming that the information submitted is accurate and no false data has knowingly and willingly been submitted, that the policies reported are provided in writing to all prospective students at least 1 week before enrollment or collection of tuition fees, that the college observes the policies and practices as reported to the board, and that it complies with this section.

(h)  The board shall set an annual review date for receiving data and assuring compliance with this section. The board shall give a college 60 days' notification of the annual review date. After providing 30 days' notification, the board may impose a fine for every month the college receiving authorization under this section fails to provide the data required by paragraphs (e) and (f). The postmark on the envelope or package containing the notification serves as the date of notification.

(i)  The following information must appear in the college's catalog or administrative bulletin: denomination, church, or religious affiliation; purpose or mission of the college; a list and description of all courses of study; a list of course descriptions; a list of all faculty members with their degrees; administrative officers and staff; all fees, charges, nonrefundable fees, and tuition; refund policies; transferability of credits to and from other colleges; accreditation, if any; whether or not the accrediting agency is recognized by the United States Department of Education; and the college's authorization status. A college receiving authorization under this section shall include the following statement in the purpose, mission, accreditation, or recognition statement in the catalog to clarify its statutory existence: "The degree programs of this college are designed solely for religious vocations."

(j)  The name of the college shall include a religious modifier or the name of a religious patriarch, saint, person, or symbol of the church.

(2)  A nonpublic college shall be exempt from the requirements of paragraphs (1)(b) and (c) if it complies with all other provisions of this section and with the minimum standards for licensure as provided for in rule. Verification of compliance with this section shall be accomplished by one of the following methods:

(a)  By submission to the board of a finding of compliance by a group of individuals forming an education association pursuant to the following requirements:

1.  Members of the association are citizens of the State of Florida.

2.  The association is based in, and operates in, the State of Florida.

3.  Members designated by the association shall receive training from the board staff, including participating in the evaluation of a minimum of two licensure cycles from initial application through regular licensure, complete with site visits and related board meetings. The association shall pay its members' expenses for training. Association members shall be exempt from these training requirements if the board determines that they have experience reviewing institutions with standards as rigorous as the board's minimum standards for licensure.

4.  No more than two members of the review team shall derive income from the same nonpublic postsecondary collegiate institution or nonpublic postsecondary education association.

5.  No member of the review team shall derive income from the institution being reviewed.

6.  At least three members of the review team must have a minimum of 3 years' experience in postsecondary collegiate administration and have experience implementing standards as rigorous as the board's minimum standards for licensure.

For each nonpublic college reviewed by the association, the association shall submit to the board a copy of all data required by statute and rule related to minimum standards for licensure. Such data shall be submitted at least 30 days prior to the college's annual review date assigned by the board.

(b)  By submission to the board of evidence of accreditation by a regional or national accrediting agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education.

(c)  By a finding of compliance by the board.

(3)  The board shall enter into an agreement with a group of individuals forming an education association to oversee the review and collection of the data submitted pursuant to this section. However, nonpublic colleges and universities subject to this section may choose at any time to be under the State Board of Independent Colleges and Universities for review and collection of data. The association authorized by the board shall meet the following qualifications:

(a)  Members of the association must be citizens of the State of Florida.

(b)  The association shall be based in, and operate in, the State of Florida.

(c)  Members designated by the association shall receive training from the board staff, including participating in the evaluation of a minimum of two authorization applications, complete with site visits and related board meetings. The association shall pay its members' expenses for training. Association members shall be exempt from these training requirements if the board determines that they have experience reviewing institutions with standards as rigorous as the board's minimum standards for authorization.

(d)  No more than two members of the review team shall derive income from the same nonpublic postsecondary collegiate institution or nonpublic postsecondary education association.

(e)  No member of the review team shall derive income from the institution being reviewed.

(f)  At least three members of the review team must have a minimum of 3 years' experience in postsecondary collegiate administration and have experience implementing standards as rigorous as the board's minimum standards for authorization.

For each nonpublic college reviewed by the association, the association shall submit to the board a copy of all data required by statute related to standards for authorization. Such data shall be submitted at least 30 days prior to the college's annual review date assigned by the board.

(4)  The burden of determining compliance with this section shall rest with the board. The board may require further evidence and make such further investigation, in addition to the information submitted, as may be reasonably necessary in the board's judgment.

(5)  If the board determines that a college meets the requirements of this section, the board shall issue the college an authorization.

(6)  If at any time a college receiving authorization under this section fails to comply with this section, it shall be required to apply for a license pursuant to s. 246.081 within 30 days of the board's final action finding that the college is not authorized under this section. Final actions by the board may be taken only after two consecutive quarterly meetings. A notice of noncompliance with the specific requirements of this section shall precede the two quarterly meetings. A final noncompliance notification shall be sent by certified mail 30 days prior to the final action.

History.--s. 2, ch. 97-218; s. 9, ch. 98-309; s. 3(7), ch. 2000-321.

1Note.--Repealed January 7, 2003, by s. 3(7), ch. 2000-321, and shall be reviewed by the Legislature prior to that date.