Out-of-State Schools That Wish to Offer Iowans Distance Education

Which accredited degree-granting schools must seek authorization? 

If your accredited* out-of-state school 1) does not participate in SARA; 2) wishes to offer 100% distance education programs to Iowa residents; and 3) your distance education programs and related operational activities meet none of the conditions for Registration, then Iowa College Aid may authorize your school to offer your programs to Iowans without registration. 

A school that believes it may be eligible to offer its distance education programs without registration must contact the Postsecondary Authorization Team. The school should be prepared to provide detailed information sufficient for staff to render a written determination as to whether the school must apply for formal registration as a distance education provider.  

A school that receives a written determination that it need not register for distance education must contact Iowa College Aid immediately for re-evaluation if its programmatic or operational activities change.

A limited exception to this prohibition exists for a school of religious study that is not accredited.  For more information about meeting the conditions for a religious study exemption see Exemption from Registration.

Are there other authorization requirements that could apply?

Iowa College Aid may require nonpublic institutions to file a Financial Responsibility application. Please refer to the Financial Responsibility webpage for further information.

A for-profit school may be required to adopt the Iowa Tuition Refund Policy.  

In addition, for-profit schools that do not participate in the Federal Student Aid Programs may be required to provide Disclosures

May unaccredited schools offer programs in Iowa?

If your out-of-state school grants degrees but does not have institutional accreditation from an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education, your school is prohibited from offering any portion of your programs in Iowa or to Iowans. See Iowa Code Section 261B.13.

However, if your school solely offers vocational, non-degree courses or programs, the school need not be accredited*. Contact the Postsecondary Authorization Team to provide detailed information sufficient for staff to render a written determination as to whether the school is authorized to offer its courses or programs to Iowans.  

What if my school offers hybrid programs?

Iowa College Aid does not regulate a program that is offered in part via distance education and includes any mandatory, out-of-state, on-campus attendance requirement. These activities include but are not necessarily limited to an on-campus residency, clinical, immersion, orientation, or dissertation defense.


*Accredited means the school or other entity is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.