1998 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Ferris
Senate Bill 2356
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT RELATING TO THE MISSISSIPPI PROPRIETARY SCHOOL AND COLLEGE REGISTRATION LAW; TO AMEND SECTION 75-60-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT CORRESPONDENCE COURSES ARE EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE REGISTRATION LAW; TO AMEND SECTION 75-60-15, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE INITIAL APPLICATION FEE AND THE RENEWAL FEE FOR CERTIFICATES OF REGISTRATION; TO AMEND SECTION 75-60-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CLARIFY THE CONDITIONS UPON THE SURETY BOND FOR CERTIFICATES OF REGISTRATION; TO AMEND SECTION 75-60-18, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE TUITION REFUND POLICY FOR STUDENTS ATTENDING PROPRIETARY SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES; TO AMEND SECTION 75-59-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT APPLICANTS FOR CORRESPONDENCE COURSE PERMITS SHALL APPLY TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, THE STATE BOARD FOR COMMUNITY AND JUNIOR COLLEGES OR THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING, AS APPROPRIATE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 75-60-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
75-60-5. The provisions of this chapter do not apply to the following categories of courses, schools or colleges:
(a) Tuition-free courses or schools conducted by employers exclusively for their own employees;
(b) Schools, colleges, technical institutes, community colleges, junior colleges or universities under the jurisdiction of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning or the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges;
(c) Schools or courses of instruction under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Cosmetology or State Board of Barber Examiners;
(d) Courses of instruction required by law to be approved or licensed, or given by institutions approved or licensed, by a state board or agency other than the Commission on Proprietary School and College Registration; however, a school so approved or licensed may apply to the Commission on Proprietary School and College Registration for a certificate of registration to be issued in accordance with the provisions of this chapter;
(e) Correspondence courses;
(f) Nonprofit private schools offering academic credits at primary or secondary levels, or conducting classes for exceptional education as defined by regulations of the State Department of Education;
(g) Private nonprofit colleges and universities or any private school offering academic credits at primary, secondary or postsecondary levels;
(h) Courses of instruction conducted by a public school district or a combination of public school districts;
(i) Courses of instruction conducted outside the United States;
(j) A school which offers only instruction in subjects which the Commission on Proprietary School and College Registration determines are primarily for avocational, personal improvement or cultural purposes and which does not represent to the public that its course of study or instruction will or may produce income for those who take such study or instruction;
(k) Courses conducted primarily on an individual tutorial basis, where not more than one (1) student is involved at any one (1) time, except in those instances where the Commission on Proprietary School and College Registration determines that the course is for the purpose of preparing for a vocational objective;
(l) Kindergartens or similar programs for preschool-age children.
SECTION 2. Section 75-60-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
75-60-15. (1) The initial application fee shall be Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) which shall accompany each application for certificate of registration, * * * and the * * * renewal fee shall be Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) * * *.
(2) If a renewal fee is not paid at least thirty (30) days prior to the expiration of a school's certificate of registration, in addition to the renewal fee, there shall be a delinquent fee of one-tenth of one percent (1/10 of 1%) of such school's gross tuition revenues collected during the previous registration year, with a maximum fee of Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00) and a minimum fee of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00). The reinstatement registration fee for a suspended school shall be Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00). No portion of any license fee shall be subject to refund.
(3) A certificate of registration shall be issued or denied within sixty (60) days after receipt of the application by the commission.
(4) No new program of study shall be offered by any school holding a certificate of registration until it is registered with and approved by the commission in accordance with procedures which shall be established by the commission. After such course is registered in accordance with the approval procedures provided for herein, it shall be included as a part of any renewal of a certificate of registration. Each application for the original registration of a new course shall be accompanied by a fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00).
(5) A certificate of registration shall be valid only for the school and courses for which it is issued and shall not include other schools or additional locations of a school unless each such additional location (a) offers only courses which are identical to courses offered at the registered location and (b) is under the same ownership, management and control as that of the registered location except as may be provided otherwise in this section. Such additional locations meeting such requirements shall be identified as "annexes" on a certificate application. Gross tuition revenues for the registered location and all annexes shall be combined for the purpose of determining fees payable under this section.
(6) The fee submitted with the application is not returnable to the applicant, even though a certificate of registration is not issued.
SECTION 3. Section 75-60-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
75-60-17. The application for a certificate of registration shall be accompanied by a surety bond in the penal sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) with conditions and in a form prescribed by the Commission on Proprietary School and College Registration with at least one (1) corporate bonding company approved by the Department of Insurance as surety thereon. The bond shall provide for the indemnification of any person suffering loss as the result of any false certification, school closure, any fraud or misrepresentation used in behalf of the principal in procuring such person's enrollment in a course of instruction, including repayment of tuition paid in advance by any student. The liability of the surety on such bond for the school covered shall not exceed the sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) as an aggregate for all students for all breaches of the conditions of the bond by the school. The term of the bond shall be continuous, but it shall be subject to cancellation by the surety in the manner described in this section. The bond shall provide blanket coverage for the acts of all persons engaged as agents of the school without naming them and without regard to the time they are engaged during the term of the bond.
The surety may terminate the bond upon giving a sixty-day written notice to the principal and to the Commission on Proprietary School and College Registration, but the liability of the surety for acts of the principal and its agents shall continue during the sixty (60) days of cancellation notice. The notice does not absolve the surety from liability which accrues before the cancellation becomes final but which is discovered after that date and which may have arisen at any time during the term of the bond. Unless the bond is replaced by that of another surety before the expiration of the sixty (60) days' notice of cancellation, the certificate of registration shall be suspended. Any person subject to this chapter required to file a bond with an application for a certificate of registration may file, in lieu thereof, cash, a certificate of deposit, or government bonds in the amount of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00). Said deposit is subject to the same terms and conditions as are provided for in the surety bond required herein. Any interest or earnings on such deposits are payable to the depositor.
SECTION 4. Section 75-60-18, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
75-60-18. When refunds are due, they shall be made within thirty (30) days of the last day of attendance if written notification of withdrawal has been provided to the institution by the student. All refunds shall be made without requiring a request from the student and within thirty (30) days from the date that the institution terminates the student or determines withdrawal by the student based on last day of attendance. In any event, all refunds shall be made within sixty (60) days of the student's last day of attendance. Any unused portion of fees and other institutional charges shall be refunded as follows:
(a) Refunds for Classes Cancelled by the Institution. If tuition and fees are collected in advance of the starting date of a program and the institution cancels the class, one hundred percent (100%) of the tuition and fees collected shall be refunded. The refund shall be made within thirty (30) days of the planned starting date.
(b) Refunds for Students Who Withdraw on or Before the First Day of Class. If tuition processing fees are collected in advance of the starting date of classes and the student does not begin classes or withdraws on the first day of classes, no more than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) of the tuition and processing fees may be retained by the institution. Appropriate refunds for a student who does not begin classes shall be made within thirty (30) days of the class starting date.
(c) Refunds for Students Enrolled Prior to Visiting the Institution. Students who have not visited the school facility prior to enrollment will have the opportunity to withdraw without penalties within three (3) days following a documented attendance at a regularly scheduled orientation or a documented tour of the facilities and inspection of the equipment. Institutions are required to keep records of students' initial visits or orientation sessions.
(d) Refunds for Students After Instruction has Begun. Contractual obligations beyond twelve (12) months are prohibited. The refund policy for students attending proprietary institutions who incur financial obligations for a period of twelve (12) months or less shall be as follows:
(i) After the first day of classes and during the first ten percent (10%) of the period of financial obligation, the institution shall refund at least ninety percent (90%) of the tuition;
(ii) After the first ten percent (10%) of the period of financial obligation and until the end of the first twenty-five percent (25%) of the period of obligation, the institution shall refund at least fifty percent (50%) of the tuition;
(iii) After the first twenty-five percent (25%) of the period of financial obligation and until the end of the first fifty percent (50%) of the period of obligation, the institution shall refund at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the tuition; and
(iv) After the first fifty percent (50%) of the period of financial obligation, the institution may retain all of the tuition.
SECTION 5. Section 75-59-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
75-59-1. No person, firm or corporation shall contract to furnish correspondence courses to persons within the state unless such person, firm or corporation shall have obtained a permit from the office of the Secretary of State, either (a) the State Department of Education, (b) the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, or (c) the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, whichever is appropriate, and the Office of the Attorney General. An application for a permit shall be made on forms furnished by the Secretary of State, the State Department of Education, the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges or the Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning, as the case may be, and the Attorney General and such application shall designate an agent for the service of summons within the state; shall contain the name and address of the applicant; the type of courses offered with a brief summary of the course of studies offered; and one (1) copy of all textbooks or other teaching aids and training materials which are incorporated in the course of study shall be filed with said application. The applicant shall pay the secretary of state a fee of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00). The applicant shall file a bond with his application in the sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) conditioned to satisfy any judgment rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction, in favor of any person who has sustained damages as a result of the breach of a contract of instruction by the permittee. Such bond shall be executed by the permittee and a resident surety company qualified to transact business within the state. Such permit shall be valid for one (1) year from the date thereof. Suits against the permittee and his surety may be brought in the county where the plaintiff resides, or the county where the defendant has his principal place of business, or where his resident agent resides. This chapter shall not apply to any business school or business college holding a current certificate or license issued under the applicable law of this state. In addition, this chapter shall not apply to religious instructions offered by a recognized church denomination; provided, however, that no fee or charge of any kind whatever may be levied or collected directly or indirectly for such instructions or certificates issued in connection therewith or incidental thereto. No person shall be granted a permit unless he is an individual of good moral character.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.