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Frequently Asked Questions

Which schools are required to be licensed?

The Private Licensed Schools Act defines a private licensed school as a school or classes operated for profit or tuition that provides resident instruction to prepare an individual to pursue an occupation in the skilled trades, industry or business, or systematic instruction by correspondence or by telecommunication in a field of study. 24 P. S. § 6502.

That section of the statute provides authority for the State Board of Private Licensed Schools’ policy that schools which meet all five of the following requirements must be licensed before operating: an entity (1) offers classes or maintains a school, (2) charges tuition or makes a profit from fees, (3) contracts with individuals directly rather than through a third party, (4) prepares those individuals to pursue employment as it is defined in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (1991 edition) as amended or supplemented, and (5) is not specifically exempt under the statute.

The term "licensure" applies to schools located inside Pennsylvania. The term "registration" applies to schools located outside, but recruiting students inside, Pennsylvania.

What is the difference between licensure and accreditation?

The State Board of Private Licensed Schools does not accredit schools. The Division of Higher & Career Education may know if a school is accredited, but accreditation is handled through accrediting agencies.

Licensure is a mandatory government process to assure that an entity meets certain requirements established by the legislature. It refers to approval/permission to engage in a business activity.

Accreditation: is a voluntary process to assure that an entity meets standards established by a group of external experts in a particular field. It refers to the recognition of an educational institution as maintaining certain standards.

What types of schools do you license and register?

The State Board of Private Licensed Schools licenses and registers trade, business, and correspondence schools. It does not regulate private academic schools, community colleges, colleges, universities, and other types of schools.

At what intervals are school licenses renewed?

When a school is initially approved, the license is valid for one year. The school must then submit a renewal application to The Division of Higher & Career Education for review. After the first year of operation, the school’s license is renewed for two-year periods.

Will a certificate, diploma, or Associate in Specialized Business or Associate in Specialized Technology degree awarded by a private licensed school be recognized by employers and other postsecondary schools?

Questions about the recognition of any school’s diploma or degree cannot be answered summarily. colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions as well as individual employers, occupational certification associations, and funding agencies have much discretion in establishing entrance criteria. To assure that any credit or degree is accepted by the organizations of your choice, you must discuss with those organizations their specific entrance or employment criteria.

How do the schools rate?

The State Board of Private Licensed Schools and the Division of Higher & Career Education do not rate schools. We can, however, inform you about the number of complaints which have been filed against the school and tell you whether or not the school is licensed and in good standing.

How do I obtain a copy of my official transcript if the school I attended is closed?

Attached is a list of closed schools and information about the location of student records. Although the Division of Higher & Career Education does not store transcripts, we can direct you to the repository, records storage area, responsible for holding student records. If transcripts are available through the repository, a fee may be required to obtain the transcript. In order to meet licensure requirements, private schools must have an agreement with another entity to become the holder of student records in the event of school closure. If student records for your school are no longer available, we may be able to assist you by providing a letter.

Closed School Records (PDF)

Download Adobe Acrobat

How can I obtain student loan forgiveness?

If you have received a student loan through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) or the United States Department of Education, you may qualify for loan discharge under certain circumstances. You may obtain information about loan forgiveness when schools close from U.S. Department of Education - Closed School Information. The Division of Higher & Career Education does not administer loan programs and or process requests for loan forgiveness.

Where can I find information on financial aid?

Usually the school you plan to attend is the best source of information about funding. The administrators in the school’s financial aid office will tell you which federal and state programs they administer. They will also explain additional scholarship programs or other sources of funding.

You may wish to check the sites listed below. For information about federal financial aid programs, visit student information on financial aid programs. For information about Pennsylvania’s financial aid programs, visit PHEAA (This site is the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency’s home page)

Additional information on Financial Aid

What should I consider when choosing a field of study?

What should I consider in choosing a school?

What happens if my school closes?

Is there any danger in taking out student loans?

What can I expect on my enrollment agreement?

What can I expect in my school catalog?

What can I expect on my transcript and diploma?

Are correspondence high school diplomas valid?



For additional information, please contact:

Division of Higher & Career Education |
Pennsylvania Department of Education - Postsecondary and Adult Education
333 Market Street. 12th Fl | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 717.783.8228 | Fax: 717.772.3622
ra-pls@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us