What does the Division of Private Occupational Schools do?
The Division of Private Occupational Schools (“DPOS”) is a state agency within the Colorado Department of Higher Education that is statutorily charged under the Private Occupational Education Act of 1981, et seq., of the Colorado Revised Statutes, with overseeing postsecondary private occupational schools and its delivery of occupational education. The mission of the DPOS and Board of Private Occupational Schools is to provide standards for and to foster and improve private occupational schools and their educational services, and to protect the citizens of this state from fraudulent and substandard private occupational schools.
What is a private occupational school?
A private occupational school is any entity (individual, business, institution or organization) or sometimes referred to as “proprietary schools” that charge tuition for postsecondary education and training, which offers educational services or credentials that constitute occupational education in this state and which are not specifically exempt.
What is “Occupational Education”?
Any education or training designed to facilitate the vocational, technical or occupational development of individual persons which is conducted as part of a program of training, instruction or study designed to fit individuals for gainful employment as semiskilled or skilled workers or technicians in recognized occupations requiring less than a four-year baccalaureate degree.
What types of schools does DPOS regulate?
The DPOS through the Board of Private Occupational Schools provides regulatory oversight to over 300 private occupational schools in Colorado and 40 out-of-state schools that delivers education or training in a variety of occupational areas such as cosmetology, real estate, IT/business, massage therapy, trucking, automotive, bartending and allied healthcare professions. For a list of approved in-state and out-of-state private occupational schools, click here.
What is the tuition refund and cancellation policy?
All schools must have a tuition refund and cancellation policy for each program offered. Read and understand the schools policy regarding tuition refund and cancellation before you sign the enrollment agreement. If you do not understand it, or are confused by the schools’ explanation, get help before you sign. You may contact our Division for assistance.
What should I know about private occupational school “recruiters”?
Admission agents/representatives (recruiters) are employed by the school for the purpose of enrolling students in the school. A recruiter cannot use the availability of student aid as an inducement. Each agent/representative must be issued an agent permit by the Division to recruit students as a school representative.
Will my credits from a private occupational school transfer to other schools?
The acceptance of credits from another institution is always at the discretion of the receiving institution. For more information, contact the institution you are considering attending.
Does the DPOS oversee distance learning via the Internet?
State statutes say if a school operates in Colorado, meaning establishes, keeps or maintains any facility or location in this state where, from, or through which educational services are offered or educational credentials are offered or granted, it should be DPOS approved unless the school is exempt. However, many schools offering programs and degrees via the Internet do not seek DPOS approval. To protect themselves, consumers should contact the DPOS before enrolling in schools offering distance learning programs.
What if a school is not approved?
Unapproved schools are breaking the law. An unapproved school is subject to the Board’s jurisdiction.
How else are consumers protected?
Complaint Handling – DPOS periodically receives student complaints. We investigate these only after they are put into written form from the complainant. We work with the school and the complainant to resolve the complaint. If we cannot resolve the situation, the student and/or the school may request a hearing before the board.
Other Protections - Schools must have refund policies, which enable students to withdraw or change their mind about attending a school without losing all tuition they have paid. We require that schools be bonded to protect students if a school closes or if it defrauds or misrepresents itself to the public. We require that enrollment documents and school catalogs contain specific information to allow students to make informed decisions regarding enrollment in a school or program.
How do I file a complaint about an occupational school?
Obtain a copy of the school complaint process from the school you are attending. Talk to the teacher or person involved. State clearly what you need or want. If you are not satisfied, contact the director or school owner. If you follow all the steps of the school process and you are still not satisfied, you may submit a complaint online with the Division containing the facts of the case. When the complaint is received, this office will contact the school and conduct an investigation into the situation which resulted in the complaint.
What if a school closes?
The best option for students faced with a school closure is to retain credits earned, continue their course of studies and obtain their certificate or degree. For most students, this involves a transfer to another school. If continuing studies is not possible, students may consider other options, including requesting a refund of tuition, discharge of their student loans or other compensation. However, selecting discharges or refunds will likely result in the loss of credits already earned. There also may be other legal remedies available to you.
The DPOS directly manages a closed school situation. We provide advice to students, work with surety companies to secure reimbursements and coordinate activities with other appropriate state and federal agencies. We also ensure that all school records are retained in accordance to state law so that students can verify completion and attendance for future education and employment needs. Below are some key options to consider when faced with a school closure.
TEACH-OUT: Students may be able to complete their studies at the closing school or other schools. The DPOS will work with the closing school and other schools in the area to explore whether a teach-out can be made available. A teach-out is intended to fulfill the contract between the closing school and the student. The teach-out will provide comparable training for which the students will pay only what remains to be paid on their contract.
TRANSFER: Students may be able to transfer credits to another school offering similar courses. They should contact other schools about transfer eligibility. For a list of schools approved by the Board, students can visit our website. Unlike a teach-out, the DPOS typically does get involved in will any arrangement that the student makes, and the new school will determine what courses the student will need to take and the charges.
SCHOOL REFUND: Students can request a refund of tuition from the school in writing. Information on a particular school's refund policy can be found in its course catalog and/or enrollment agreement.
DISCHARGE OF LOAN: If students don't transfer or complete studies and they've received a federally subsidized loan, they may be eligible to have the loan discharged. Students should contact their lender or the U.S. Department of Education at 1-800-4-FEDAID or obtain more information, including a loan-discharge application, online at http://studentaid.ed.gov/.
What if a school is closed and I need a copy of my transcript/record of completion?
If you need a transcript from a school that closed, please contact the Division to see whether it has those records. If the Division has the records, you will be contacted and informed about the process to obtain a copy of your transcript. (The Division does not have student records for all closed schools). You can request your student records by completing and submitting the student record request form to the Division:
What is difference between Board approval and accreditation?
A school receives approval by the Board of Private Occupational Schools to operate in the State of Colorado. Colorado law requires all private occupational schools that are not exempt pursuant to section 12-59-104, of the Colorado Revised Statutes to be regulated. The Board does not grant private occupational schools accreditation. Accreditation is a non-governmental, voluntary, peer evaluation process whereby a school may elect to seek accreditation status by an independent accreditation body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Accreditation is voluntary and is not required by State law.
How do I know if my school is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education?
Lists of regional and national accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education can be found by going to the following website: U.S. Dept. of Education: Office of Postsecondary Education.
What is Title IV Aid?
Title IV Aid is the governmental financial aid program governed by the U.S. Department of Education (i.e.; Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Work Study, and Various Loan Programs). Only institutions accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education are eligible to participate in Title IV programs.
How can I obtain information about financial aid and student loans?
Specific questions regarding the application and receipt of Financial Aid should be directed to the Financial Aid Office at the school a student attends. General questions regarding financial aid can be directed to the following agencies:
U.S. Department of Education.
Federal Student Aid Information Center
PO Box 84
Washington D.C. 20044
Information About a Defaulted Student Loan
U.S. Department of Education.
Debt Collection Service
P.O. Box 422037
San Francisco, CA 94142
How can I get a financial aid transcript for a closed school?
If you need a financial aid transcript for a closed school, the financial aid office at the school you will be attending will give you a financial aid transcript form. Send it to:
Student Financial Aid Information Center
Financial Aid Transcript Request
P.O. Box 4129
Iowa City, Iowa 52244