About Postsecondary Registration

What is postsecondary registration?

Postsecondary registration is the term used in Iowa law to describe the process by which a college or university gains authorization to offer programs in Iowa or to Iowa residents. A school that wants to offer educational instruction to students in Iowa may be required to comply with one or more of the following requirements of Iowa law:

  • Iowa Code Chapter 261B - Registration of postsecondary educational institutions 
  • Iowa Code Sections 714.18 and 714.19 - Evidence of financial responsibility or a claim of exemption
  • Iowa Code Section 714.23 - Iowa tuition refund policy for for-profit educational institutions
  • Iowa Code Section 714.25 - Student disclosures for for-profit postsecondary educational institutions that do not participate in the federal student aid programs

More information about Iowa Codes & Policies

Notice of Rules Revision for Postsecondary Registration

New rules became effective on May 27, 2016, that govern Iowa postsecondary registration (authorization). 

Significant changes enacted by these new rules include the following:

Registration Fees

A school that applies for initial registration in Iowa shall remit to Iowa College Aid an initial, one-time, nonrefundable registration application fee in the amount of $5,000.

A school that is approved for registration in Iowa shall remit an annual fee payable to Iowa College Aid that is due by July 15 of each year.  The annual fee is nonrefundable and will be assessed based on a school’s Fall full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment, as reported to the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), as follows:

  • Under 2,500 FTE – $2,000.
  • 2,500 to 9,999 FTE – $4,000
  • 10,000 FTE or more – $6,000.

Program, Campus or School Closure

Currently, the chief executive officer of a school that applies for registration must provide a signed statement agreeing to provide alternatives for students to complete their programs at the same or other schools if the school discontinues a program, the applicant school closes, or the applicant school closes an Iowa site before students have completed their courses of study.  New rules clarify that, notwithstanding any limitations on student eligibility for a teach-out plan approved by a school’s accrediting agency, the alternatives that the school provides under this agreement with Iowa College Aid shall ensure that all academically eligible students attending the programs the school offers under its registration are provided with a viable option(s) to finish the program(s).  No later than 90 days before a registered school takes action to discontinue a program that is offered by the school under its registration, close an Iowa site, or close the school, the school must notify Iowa College Aid in writing. The school’s notice to Iowa College Aid must include all of the following:

  • The full name, residential address, telephone number, email address, program name, and anticipated graduation date of affected Iowa resident students, or as applicable, affected students at the school’s Iowa campus, organized alphabetically by student last name.
  • Documentation of the school’s proposed notice to students.
  • The school’s specific plan to provide alternatives for affected students to complete programs offered under the school’s registration, as described above.  The school shall obtain the prior approval of Iowa College Aid for any agreement the school proposes to establish with another institution that provides completion alternatives for programs the school offered under its registration.
  • The school’s plan for permanent storage and retrieval of student transcript information.
  • Specific information about how the school will provide transitional support to affected students.
  • Contact information for the specific entity and individual who will accept responsibility for all of the following:
    • Ensuring that unearned federal student aid is timely returned to the U.S. Department of Education.
    • Finalizing student account records and providing copies of the students’ final account statements to the students, and upon request, to Iowa College Aid
    • Collecting outstanding bills a student owes to the school for tuition and other educational expenses.
    • Collecting on private education loans or other institutional loans made to students by the school and, if applicable, the school’s private preferred lender(s).

Limitation, denial or revocation of registration

At the time of initial registration or registration renewal and during a registration term, Iowa College Aid may take action that includes, but is not limited to, limiting the school’s program offerings or enrollment or denying or revoking the school’s registration as a result of any of the following:

  • An adverse notice, warning, or other sanction issued by the school’s accrediting agency.
  • An adverse action or sanction issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • A law suit filed by a state agency, a state attorney general’s office, or another enforcement authority.
  • A judgment issued by a state attorney general’s office or another enforcement authority.
  • A for-profit school’s most recently calculated percentage of revenue derived from Title IV, federal student aid funding exceeds the threshold established by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Repeated complaints about a school received from the school’s students by Iowa College Aid, by another state, or by a state attorney general’s office.
  • Notice that the school has experienced a change of ownership or governance.  The school shall notify Iowa College Aid no later than 30 calendar days after the change in ownership or governance.
  • Failure to pay fees due to Iowa College Aid.
  • Other actions deemed by Iowa College Aid as significant evidence that the school should not be allowed to operate under registration authorization.

Please contact the Postsecondary Registration Administrator Carolyn Small by email at carolyn.small@iowa.gov or by phone at (515) 725-3413 if you have questions about this information or to obtain a copy of the new postsecondary registration rules.

Rule Change Updates

Schools that wish to view adopted and administered rules that impact postsecondary registration in Iowa may view them at legis.iowa.gov/Subscribe/agencyChanges.aspx.


Iowa College Aid Contact Information

For additional information regarding the State of Iowa's postsecondary registration, financial responsibility, tuition refund and disclosure requirements, please contact:

Carolyn Small
Postsecondary Registration Coordinator
Iowa College Aid
475 SW Fifth St., Suite D
Des Moines, IA  50309
(877) 272-4456 option 4