Yes; please see attachments below.
Religious Exemption Attachment
South Carolina Commission on Higher Education
Nonpublic Postsecondary Institution Licensing 1122 Lady Street, Suite 200, Columbia, SC 29201 Telephone (803) 737-2260; FAX (803) 737-2297
Web site: www.che.sc.gov
EXPLANATION OF EXEMPTION FOR “INSTITUTIONS WHOSE SOLE PURPOSE IS RELIGIOUS OR THEOLOGICAL TRAINING” - Code Section 59-58-30(4) - Exclusions
1. CITATION FOR EXEMPTION. The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education is the licensing authority for private postsecondary education under the provisions of the Nonpublic Postsecondary Institution License Act, Chapter 58 of Title 59, South Carolina Code of Laws, 1976, as amended. Section 59-58-30 of the law states that the definition of a “nonpublic educational institution” does not include “(4) Institutions whose sole purpose is religious or theological training.”
2. CITATION FOR DEFINITION OF “RELIGIOUS OR THEOLOGICAL.” Section 59-58-20(18) defines “religious or theological training” as “...the awarding of nonacademic degrees, diplomas, or certificates with a specific theological, biblical, divinity, or other religious designation.”
3. TYPE OF DEGREES EXEMPT INSTITUTIONS MAY AWARD. Bible colleges and theological seminaries are exempt from licensure requirements if they limit their South Carolina offerings to courses for Bible or theological credentials. Credentials must be titled clearly to label them as professional, such as “Associate of Biblical Studies” or “Bachelor of General Ministry,” or “Master of Divinity.” An exempt institution may offer programs that prepare graduates for service in ministry. In addition to religious terms in the degree title, the curriculum must support religious or theological content and objectives. An exempt institution may not award Ph.D. degrees, or associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees in arts or sciences.
4. APPROPRIATE ADVISING. Institutions must take care that students are not mislead about the purposes and uses of credentials it awards. Publications and advising should clearly state that use of credentials issued by unlicensed or unaccredited institutions is limited; that this type of credential may not be accepted by employers for jobs; and it is unlikely that institutions that hold recognized accreditation will accept the credit for transfer. The description of each program where the major is in a specific field (such as Christian Education or Pastoral/Ministerial/Christian Counseling) should include a specific disclaimer that the program does not meet requirements for professional licensure or certification.
5. PROHIBITION OF CLAIMS. As stated in South Carolina Commission on Higher Education Regulation 62-25.K., “An institution exempt from the Commission’s oversight may not claim that it is under authority of the Nonpublic Postsecondary Institution License Act or the Commission. It may not claim that the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education recognizes it, grants it authority to operate, offer, or award a credential, or use any other misleading language referring to approval, recognition, authority, licensure, accreditation, certification, registration, or oversight.” Regulation 62-26 states that “Reference in advertising to accreditation shall name the agency and shall be limited to accreditation currently held by the institution through nationally recognized accrediting agencies as defined and listed by the United States Department of Education.”
6. CLAIMS OF ACCREDITATION. The Commission encourages institutions that do not hold recognized accreditation to use a statement such as, “The institution is not accredited by a recognized accrediting agency.” However, institutions accredited by an agency that is not recognized must include a disclosure that, “The accrediting body name is not recognized by the U. S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.” Information about accreditation (or lack thereof) must be restricted so that it does not confuse students about the meaning of accreditation.
7. FURTHER REVIEW; AUTHORIZATION TO INVESTIGATE. The Commission reserves the right to examine the status of any exempt institution based on information available in the future to the Commission or based on changes in authority the General Assembly grants to the Commission. The Commission may review information, web sites, and publications and inform institutions to make additions, deletions, and corrections. Regulation 62-27 gives the Commission the authority to intervene on the behalf of a person filing a complaint against an institution that is exempt from the oversight of the Commission.
8. INFORMING THE COMMISSION. So that the staff might better be able to respond to inquiries from the public, please inform the Commission of activities of exempt institutions.
9. LETTER OF EXEMPTION. Make a request in writing for a letter from the Commission specifically acknowledging exemption. Include the name of the institution, officials of the institution, a list of the programs to be offered, and a copy of publications.
10. RECOGNIZED ACCREDITING AGENCIES. The Commission recommends that officials at exempt institutions contact a recognized accrediting agency and carefully consider complying with the requirements for recognized accreditation, especially in the areas of faculty credentials, curricula structure, and credit awards. Three recognized accrediting agencies that accredit theological institutions are:
Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE)
(formerly The Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges)
Commission on Accreditation
P. O. Box 780339
5575 S. Semoran Boulevard, Suite 26
Orlando, FL 32822-1781
ABHE accredits colleges that offer certificates, diplomas, associate and/or baccalaureate degrees aimed at preparing students for Christian ministries through biblical, church/vocational, and general studies.
Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS)
Commission on Accrediting
10 Summit Park Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15275-1103
ATS accredits graduate professional schools of theology, theological seminaries, and graduate programs in theology.
Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)
P.O. Box 328
Forest, Virginia 24551
Phone (434) 525-9539
Fax (434) 525-9538
TRACS accredits Christian postsecondary institutions offering certificates, diplomas, and/or degrees in Christian education.
For additional information contact Nonpublic Postsecondary Institution Licensing: Renea Eshleman, Program Manager, 803.737.2281, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operating or Soliciting Attachment
South Carolina Commission on Higher Education Nonpublic Postsecondary Institution Licensing 1122 Lady Street, Suite 200, Columbia, SC 29201 Telephone (803) 737-2260; FAX (803) 737-2297; Web site: www.che.sc.gov
Renea H. Eshleman, Program Manager Telephone 803.737.2281 E-mail email@example.com
Lane Goodwin, Program Coordinator Telephone 803.737.3918 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
CLARIFICATION OF JURISDICTION (Updated 8/15/2013) The SC Commission on Higher Education is the administering agency of the Nonpublic Postsecondary Institution License Act. The Commission does not have jurisdiction where institutions enroll SC residents into online courses or programs where the institution does not conduct activities defined as operating or soliciting in South Carolina.
Please refer to the Nonpublic Postsecondary Institution License Act; Chapter 62, SC Commission on Higher Education (CHE) Regulations; and forms, policies, and procedures of the Commission. Contact CHE licensing staff to obtain forms and ask any questions.
SECTION 59-58-20. Definitions, includes the following:
(17) “Operating or soliciting” refers to having actual presence1 within the State of South Carolina and includes for the purposes of application of this Chapter:
(a) an instructional or administrative site within South Carolina whether owned, leased, rented, or provided without charge;
1 [The Commission does not require licensing of institutions that enroll residents of South Carolina into online or distance programs unless the institution operates or solicits in South Carolina.]
2 [The Commission does not require licensing of institutions where a practicum or clinical experience is in South Carolina; however, the SC Board of Nursing requires approval of programs that lead to initial licensure. www.llr.sc.gov.]
3 [The Commission does not require licensing of institutions that offer programs online or at a distance where the sole activity is employment of faculty members who are residents of South Carolina.]
4 [The Commission does not require licensing of institutions where an in-state proctor administers exams for courses delivered by distance learning.]
5 [The Commission does not require licensing of institutions that use search engine marketing (Yahoo, Bing, Google) or web site advertisements that originate outside the borders of South Carolina.]
(b) instruction whether theory or clinical2 [within or (strikethrough)] originating from South Carolina utilizing teachers3, trainers, counselors, advisors, sponsors, or mentors4;
(c) an agent, recruiter, in-state liaison personnel, institution, or business that solicits for enrollment or credits or for the award of an educational or occupational credential; and
(d) advertising, promotional material, or public solicitation in any form that targets South Carolina residents through distribution or advertising in the state.5
Refer to SECTION 59-58-30., for exclusions to the licensing authority. Briefly, they include institutions chartered before 1953; institutions that offer kindergarten through high school; religious or theological training; recreational programs; South Carolina publicly supported institutions; courses or programs regulated and licensed or approved under an occupational licensing law of the State (such as cosmetology, barbering, nursing www.llr.sc.gov); employer-sponsored training; test review courses; programs or courses on federal military installations; and accredited institutions conducting seasonal recruiting through high school recruiting fairs. The Commission reserves the right to examine the status of any exempt institution based on information available in the future to the Commission or based on changes in authority the General Assembly grants to the Commission.
Institutions that offer on-line programs that are for teacher/administrator certification.
The South Carolina Department of Education prescribes the parameters for credentials for teacher/administrator certification. The awarding institution must hold regional accreditation and completion of the program must lead to educator certification in the state of origin. Institutions that offer education programs must closely monitor SC residents who apply to enroll in education programs to ensure that students enroll only into programs that comply with the SC DOE requirements. For more information, contact the South Carolina State Department of Education, Division of School Effectiveness, Office of Educator Services (803.734.0325) or e-mail email@example.com.
The following information is from the March 17, 2011, US Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, GEN-11-05 “Dear Colleague” letter subject:
Implementation of Program Integrity Regulations. Question 16: If a State does not regulate such activities by out-of-State institutions, the institution is considered to be legally operating in that State. Question 22: If…the State does not require the institution to obtain State approval under the circumstances to offer distance education to its residents, would the institution be required for the purposes of section 600.9(c) to have a document from the State stating that no approval by that State is required? No. However, an institution would be expected to demonstrate upon request from the Department that no State approval was required. SC does not require that an exempt institution apply for an exemption. This explanation will demonstrate to the Department that no approval is required in SC where the institution is exempt. Regarding student complaints, Regulation 62-27 gives the Commission the authority to intervene on the behalf of a person filing a complaint against an institution that is exempt from the oversight of the Commission. Under requirements of Federal Regulation 668.43(b), institutions must provide students with contact information for filing complaints with the institution’s State approval or licensing entity and any other relevant State official or agency that would appropriately handle a student’s complaint. Out-of-state institutions must publish the information even though South Carolina does not otherwise regulate the out-of-State institution's provision of distance education.
The following is the suggested language for South Carolina. Residents of South Carolina may access a complaint form through the web site of the Commission:
The form must be completed, signed, and notarized. It may be submitted with the required documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, 1122 Lady Street, Suite 200, Columbia, SC 29201.