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Private Business and Vocational Schools

On February 1, 2012, the oversight of Private Business and Vocational Schools was transferred from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) pursuant to the Private Business and Vocational Schools Act of 2012 (Public Act 97-650).  This Act is available as a pdf and the statute (105 ILCS 426) is on the Illinois General Assembly website (http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3393&ChapterID=17). The PBVS Administrative Rules were adopted by the Board on June 5, 2012. 

What is a private business and vocational school (PBVS)?

  • A private business and vocational school is any entity offering programs and/or courses in Illinois which prepares individuals for a trade, occupation, vocation, profession; or improves, enhances or adds to skills and abilities related to occupational/career opportunities

When is a school required to submit an application to the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE)?

  • An entity is required to submit an application to IBHE relative to the PBVS Act of 2012 when seeking to operate in Illinois, offer programs/courses of study in Illinois, add an extension site, change ownership of the institution, relocate the main campus, make changes to a program or the institution, or to be declared exempt from IBHE oversight.

Frequently Asked Questions:

**Click on the relevant heading.

Student Information

The school I attended is now closed and I need proof of attendance for a new job.  How do I get my transcripts?

  • IBHE maintains a list of institutions that have closed and turned over student records.  To access this list, click on the link above or click on the Closed School List and Transcript Request Form link on the left hand side of this web page.  If the institution you attended is on this list, please scroll down to print a copy of the Transcript Request form and mail the request to IBHE with the associated fee.  Please note, even if a school has turned over records to IBHE there is no way to determine if the records received are accurate and complete. 
  • If the institution you attended is not on this list, IBHE will not have a copy of your transcript.
  • Here are some additional suggestions for locating transcripts not housed in the IBHE archive:
    • If the institution has locations in other states that are still open, the registrar at those locations might have additional information that could be of use.
    • If federal financial aid funds were used to pay for all or part of the educational instruction, the Department of Education might be helpful.  The closed school contact for Illinois can be found at the following link: http://ifap.ed.gov/ifap/helpContactInformationDetailedList.jsp?contactname=Closed%20School%20Contacts.
    • If you obtained a vocational credential while attending high school, it would be beneficial to try and contact the high school you attended or the main office of school district in which the program was established to receive assistance in locating transcripts.

I have an issue with the institution where I am attending.  Where do I file a complaint?

  • Your first course of action should be to follow the institution’s grievance policy.  This policy should be outlined in the catalog and/or the Enrollment Agreement received at the time of enrollment.  If the issue is not resolved after following the institution’s grievance policy, please send a detailed account of the complaint along with supporting documents, a description of what you and the institution have done to attempt to rectify the complaint, state your desired resolution, and specifically give the IBHE permission to forward your complaint on to the institution.  The complaint may be submitted in writing to:

    Illinois Board of Higher Education
    Attn: Student Complaint Division
    431 E. Adams St., 2nd Floor
    Springfield, IL 62701

  • Only a student may submit a complaint.  Other individuals may not submit a complaint on the behalf of a student(s).
  • Anonymous complaints will be logged by the IBHE.  However, no formal action can be taken against an institution without an indentified complainant.  Based on the seriousness of the complaint, an inquiry may be made.
  • The IBHE will take complaints submitted by administration, faculty, or other employees of an institution related to institutional policies/procedures negatively affecting students.  Please follow the procedures detailed in (a).  The IBHE has no authority to intervene when complaints are related to employment matters.

How do I know the school I want to attend is approved to operate and offer programs in Illinois?

  • At present, there is not a directory of approved Private Business and Vocational Schools on the IBHE website. You may contact the IBHE to verify if a school is approved to operate and offer programs in Illinois.   
  • Institutions approved to operate and offer programs in Illinois should have a Certificate of Approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education posted for public viewing at the educational site.  This certificate lists the programs/courses the institution is approved to offer.  If programs/courses have been approved by the IBHE prior to the annual issuance of the Certificate of Approval, the institution should be able to produce a letter of approval on IBHE letterhead.
Private Business and Vocational School Directory

Is there a directory of approved institutions and programs/courses?

  • At this time, there is not a directory of approved Private Business and Vocational Schools on the IBHE website. You may contact the IBHE to verify if a school is approved to operate and offer programs in Illinois.
  • Institutions approved to operate and offer programs in Illinois should have a Certificate of Approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education posted for public viewing at the educational site.  This certificate lists the programs/courses the institution is approved to offer.  If programs/courses have been approved by the IBHE prior to the annual issuance of the Certificate of Approval, the institution should be able to produce a letter of approval on IBHE letterhead.
Accreditation, Licensure, Certification, and IBHE Approval

What is accreditation?

  • Accreditation is a process by which a non-governmental authoritative body evaluates an educational institution and its program(s).  The process ensures education providers meet and maintain minimum standards of quality related to academics and administrative practices. Institutional accreditation can be national or regional; generally regional accreditation is more rigorous.  Certain programs can also attain specialized accreditation that affirms the subject-area content of the program meets professional standards.  The accreditation process is typically voluntary unless required by other regulatory bodies.  An institution’s accreditation status and the type of accreditation an institution holds may affect financial aid eligibility, the transferability of coursework, eligibility for licensure, and the acceptance of credentials by an employer.

What is licensure?

  • Licensure is regulatory process required by a government agency that has oversight of a specific profession and the training process associated with the profession.  The licensure process is typically not voluntary.

What is certification?

  • Certification is a voluntary process by which an institution and/or a program is identified as meeting pre-determined criteria recognized as an industry/trade standard by a non-governmental agency.

 What is IBHE Approval?

  • The IBHE has statutory authority to oversee all private business and vocational schools in the State of Illinois.  IBHE grants approval to an institution to operate and offer specific programs and/or courses of study as instructed by the PBVS Act of 2012 and the Administrative Rules adopted to implement the Act.  The IBHE is not an accreditor, licensure body, or certification entity. 
Approval and Exemption

Who is required to receive approval under the PBVS Act of 2012?

  • The PBVS Act of 2012 (Section 30) and the Administrative Rules (Section 1095.20) details the types of institution and programs required to receive approval from the PBVS Division of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE).  Institutions offering programs and/or courses in Illinois which prepare individuals for a trade, occupation, vocation, profession; or improves, enhances or adds to skills and abilities related to occupational/career opportunities must obtain IBHE approval prior to operating in Illinois.

Is my institution exempt from PBVS Division oversight?

  • The PBVS Act of 2012 (Section 30) and the Administrative Rules (Section 1095.20) detail the types of institutions and/or programs which are exempt.  If you believe your institution qualifies for an exemption, the Exemption Application must be completed and submitted for review.  An analyst reviews and analyzes the submitted information to determine if the request is approved or denied.

If an institution does not charge tuition to its students, is IBHE approval still required?

  • If the program/course is funded through grants, gifts, donations, endowments, scholarships, or other similar programs, IBHE approval is still required.  The PBVS Act of 2012 and the Administrative Rules allow for an exemption related to employer-sponsored training provided at no cost an employee(s).
Degree Program

Our institution is interested in seeking approval to offer a degree program(s).  What are the next steps?

  • Institutions desiring to offer a degree program in Illinois must have IBHE approval to operate and grant degrees under the Private College Act of 1945 and the Academic Degree Act of 1961.  The degree-granting approval process is overseen by a separate division of IBHE.  Information on the degree-granting process can be located at the following link: http://www.ibhe.org/Academic%20Affairs/academicPrg/default.htm.
General Application Process

Our institution is applying for approval for the first time.  What is required?

  • An Application for Permit of Approval for New Private Business and Vocational Schools seeking to operate in Illinois must be completed and submitted with the appropriate fee.  An Application for New Program of Study for each proposed program or course of instruction the institution plans to offer must be completed and submitted with the appropriate fee as well.

How long does the application process take?

  • Applications are reviewed in order of receipt.  Many factors affect the length of time it takes an analyst to review an application.  It is strongly recommended that institutions respond to all application questions in detail and provide all requested information prior to submitting an application.  Currently, the application review process takes approximately 6-9 months.

Can I submit the requested information for the various applications in the formats used at my institution or do I have to use IBHE application forms?

  • Institutions must use the IBHE application materials to submit applications.  In the end, this is a time saving measure as it ensures that all of the information required is received and the standardization assists the analyst in the review process. 

If I provided an explanation in the narrative answer portion to a question, do I have to fill out the additional tables and/or forms asking for similar information?

  • Yes, all documents listed for each application are required documents.  The narrative answers generally provide a detailed explanation, while the additional tables are used for quick reference.

What if the question on the application form does not apply to our institution or program? 

  • Simply reply that the question asked is not applicable and explain why it is not applicable.  If the question is left blank, the analyst does not know if it does not apply to the institution or if the question was overlooked.  By explaining that the question does not apply, you may avoid a technical question during the review.

What is the best way to submit the completed application and all of the attachments?

  • Completed applications are accepted in paper copy, on CD, or on a thumb drive.  Only Word, Excel, or PDF formats are acceptable.  Questions regarding the application process may be submitted to PBVS_Apps@ibhe.org.
  • Please note the original, signed and notarized cover page must be mailed to IBHE accompanied by the applicable application fee(s).

How do I determine the amount of fees I need to submit?

  • Application fees are based on total institution size for established institutions and projected institution size for brand new institutions.  The fees associated with each type application can be found in the PBVS Act of 2012, Administrative Rules, and on the General Information Page of each application.

Can I get a reduction in the application fees?

  • No, each application has a fee associated with it, with the exception of the Application to Request Program and/or Institutional Changes.  There is no provision in statute or rule to lessen or waive fees for an institution. These fees are necessary to support the PBVS Division.

Does submission of an application and fee guarantee approval of the application?

  • Submission of an application and fee does not guarantee approval of the application.  The fee is required to cover the cost of reviewing the application.  The application requests information and supporting evidence to demonstrate an institution meets established criteria outlined in the PBVS Act of 2012 and the Administrative Rules. An analyst reviews and analyzes the submitted information and determines if the request is approved or denied.  Additional questions and a site visit may be required as part of the review process.  Institutions cannot implement the proposed request until approval has been granted.

Can I submit the cover page to an application in order to save my place in line for a review and submit the completed application later?

  • No. The review process is on a first come first served basis and applies to completed applications.  Incomplete applications will not be assigned to an analyst until all of the required information is received. 

Will an analyst visit our institution as part of the review process?

  • At this time, site visits are scheduled at analyst’s discretion.  If an analyst determines a site visit is necessary to complete the review process, an institutional representative will be contacted.

We have been waiting a significant amount of time for a response to a submitted application when will we hear something?

  • The PBVS Division has a small staff.  Applications are reviewed in order of receipt.  If a school is in urgent need of a response regarding an application submission due to accreditation requirements, lease agreements, licensure issues, or other situations that puts the organization in jeopardy of closure, it is incumbent upon the institution to communicate the need with staff. We can often assist with a letter verifying receipt of application materials and may consider on a case-by-case basis accommodating emergency needs with a rare acceleration of review.
Renewal Applications

An Annual Review Application has been submitted to IBHE and we have not yet received an approval.  Are we considered in compliance and can we still operate?

  • An institution does not have to cease operations while waiting for the approval of Annual Renewal.  If a school is in urgent need of a response related to accreditation, licensure issues, or other situations that puts the organization in jeopardy, it is incumbent upon the institution to communicate the need with staff.  We can often assist with a letter verifying receipt of application materials.

The due date for the next fiscal year annual renewal is approaching.  Our institution submitted the annual renewal for the prior fiscal year and we still have not received an approval.  Do we have to submit an annual renewal?

  • Yes.  Institutions are required by the PBVS Act of 2012 to submit a renewal application annually.  As soon as the prior year’s annual renewal is reviewed and approved the Certificate of Approval will be issued.  The PBVS Division has a small staff that is working diligently to review applications in order of receipt.
  • If a school is in urgent need of a response regarding an application submission due to accreditation requirements, lease agreements, licensure issues, or other situations that puts the organization in jeopardy of closure, it is incumbent upon the institution to communicate the need with staff. We can often assist with a letter verifying receipt of application materials and may consider on a case-by-case basis accommodating emergency needs with a rare acceleration of review.

Can I add programs or courses as part of the renewal process?

  • Institution must submit a completed Application for New Program of Study and the associated fees for each proposed program. 
  • IBHE approval is required before offering any new program or course of instruction.
  • If an institution wishes to apply for new programs, the New Program of Study Application(s) and associated fees can be submitted at the same time as the Annual Renewal Application

What is the difference between an annual review and a 5-year review?

  • The annual renewal process focuses on select components of an institution’s operations and requests information as required by the PBVS Act of 2012 and the Administrative Rules.  The 5-year review is more in-depth than the annual review focusing on all aspects of an institution’s operations.  The 5-year review is under developmentInstitutions will be informed of the 5-year review process when the process is closer to completion.
Programs of Study

What is the difference between a program of study and a course of instruction?

  • A program of study is a series/sequence of courses, beyond the secondary level, that leads to a certificate or designation below that of an associate’s degree. 
  • A course of instruction is a standalone course that meets for an extended period of time and provides instruction that may or may not be related to a program of study, but is either not part of the sequence or can be taken independent of the full sequence as a stand-alone option. A Course of Instruction may directly prepare students for a certificate or other completion credential or it can stand alone as an optional preparation or, in the case of students requiring catch-up work, a prerequisite for a program.  A stand-alone course might lead to a credential to be used toward preparing individuals for a trade, occupation, vocation, profession; or it might improve, enhance or add to skills and abilities related to occupational/career opportunities.

We are starting a new program/course at an extension site.  Do we have to wait for approval from IBHE before we can start the first class?

  • All new programs/courses must be approved by the PBVS Division.  Institutions must submit a New Programs of Study Application and receive IBHE approval prior to offering the new program/course to students at any site.
  • Institutions wishing to offer an approved program/course at an extension site where the program was not previously offered must submit the Program and/or Institutional Change Application and receive approval prior to offering the program at a different location.  An analyst will be reviewing the application to determine whether or not the institution has adequate facilities, equipment, staff, and other resources to ensure students receive a quality education.

Will a new Certificate of Approval be issued when our New Program of Study is approved?

  • No, you will receive a letter of approval.  Certificates of Approval are only issued and updated at the completion of the annual review or 5-year review process.
Program and/or Institution Changes

Our accreditor requires additional courses to be added to one of our programs.  Do we need to alert IBHE?

  • Yes.  Changes made to an approved program/course must be submitted to the PBVS division for approval.  Examples of changes are adding additional courses, changing program requirements, discontinuing a program or course, changing credit hours, or other scenarios which change the course as it was initially approved.

We have a new campus director/president do we need to submit a Program and/or Institutional Change Application?

  • Yes.  Changes in administrative staff such as presidents, governing board members, and the like need to be submitted to the PBVS Division.  This aids keeping institutional data current.

The governing board has decided to implement a name change for the institution to better reflect the institution’s mission and program offerings.  Do we need to inform the PBVS Division?

  • Yes.  This information needs to be submitted to IBHE on the Program and/or Institutional Change Application.

Do tuition and fee changes need to be reported to IBHE?

  • No. Tuition and fee changes as a standalone change do not need to be submitted to IBHE.  However, if tuition and fee changes are due to program/course modifications, then the change and justification for the tuition and fee increase must to be reported on the Program and/or Institutional Change Application.
Classroom Extensions

What steps must be taken in order to open another Illinois location in addition to our main campus? 

Change of Location

What steps need to be taken if an institution wishes to relocate its main campus?

  •  If an institution wishes to relocate its main campus site a Change of Location Application must be completed and submitted to IBHE with the associated fees.
Change of Ownership

Someone is thinking about purchasing our school.  Is IBHE approval transferable?

  • No.  IBHE approval is not transferable.  When there is a change of ownership that is 50 percent or more of the institution’s stock or assets, a Change of Ownership Application must be completed and submitted to IBHE along with the associated fees.  Additional information regarding a change of ownership can be found in Section 20 of the PBVS Act of 2012 and Section 1095.110 of the Administrative Rules.
Surety Bonds

Why is a surety bond needed and how is it calculated?

  • A surety bond protects the interests of the students by ensuring an institution is fiscally able to cover the costs of full tuition in the event of institutional closure. The amount of the bond must be sufficient enough to provide for the repayment of full tuition to all students enrolled at the institution in the event the school closes prior to enrolled students completing instruction. The amount shall be no less than $10,000.  The amount of the bond is all prepaid, unearned tuition, which also includes fees and any other costs collected by the institution.  Please refer to the FAQ’s regarding surety bonds link for further information. A basic example is provided below:
    • The surety bond amount is the highest amount of prepaid tuition paid during a term or whatever academic calendar is used by the institution.   The most basic example would be an institution has a 3 month program (April, May, June) that costs $1000 (includes tuition, books and registration fee).  Fifteen students enroll in the program.  Ten of the students (payments could be received from the student directly, or from anyone who is paying on behalf of the student) pay the cost of the program up front.  The remaining 5 have made payment arrangements with the school and are going to pay $400 (fees for the payments arrangement included) on the 1st of April, May & June.  Here is a basic excel sheet example:

Payments

April

May

June

Student 1

1000

Student 2

1000

Student 3

1000

Student 4

1000

Student 5

1000

Student 6

1000

Student 7

1000

Student 8

1000

Student 9

1000

Student 10

1000

Student 11

400

400

400

Student 12

400

400

400

Student 13

400

400

400

Student 14

400

400

400

Student 15

400

400

400

12000

2000

2000

Based on this example, the institution would need to have a surety bond in place for at least $12,000, as this was the highest amount of tuition received.  Please note, the PBVS Act of 2012 and the Administrative Rules state the minimum amount of a bond is $10,000, even if prepaid tuition falls below the $10,000 amount.

 

 



PBVS Staff

  • Daniel Cullen
    Deputy Director
  • Nina Tangman
    Associate Director
  • Position Vacant
    Assistant Director
  • Kyle Swalls
    Assistant Director
  • James Matthew
    Support Staff
  • Phone : 217.782.2551
Copyright 2012

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