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How do you start your own college?

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Wiki User
2008-03-05 02:16:26

First and foremost, you are posting in an entrepreneur section,

which is the right place because this is an incredible challenge

that will test your entrepreneurial ability to survive. The

greatest challenge is surviving in a highly regulated business

environment with rules by which other businesses are not

constrained. You will also need sufficient funding, or funding

guarantees, which is an entirely separate topic beyond this scope.

That said, the mechanics are as follows:

You will first need to obtain a license from the board of

education in the state of operation. The official regulatory body

is usually a commission for private colleges and schools under the

state board of education. Applications can be obtained from each

state's commission.

The license process is comprehensive for a reason - to protect

students. Generally the license requires that you demonstrate

viability from an academic, infrastructure and financial

standpoint. Therefore, the license application will require

information on academics (curriculum, faculty, etc.),

infrastructure (facilities, staff), finances (sufficient financial

resources, budgets and financial plans), institutional planning,


Once the license is approved that is just the beginning. You

would open under some provisional approval. You must have

sufficient resources and plans for marketing (who will attend your

school and why, and how do you let them know you are there?),

admissions (how do you help a student determine if you are the

right fit for them?), financial assistance (how can students pay?

more on that below), staff to process this all, a campus management

computer system to track it all, faculty to teach the students,

classrooms, computer labs, a library, student services, operations

and maintenance, a financial management system, etc.

How can students pay?

This is one of the most critical points for a new institution.

It will take about 5 years to pass all the regulatory hurdles to

obtain federal financial aid approval, which provides reasonable

access to grants and loans and allows students to pay for the

education at your college. In the meantime, you must obtain

approvals from one of only several private loan companies so that

your students can finance their education. These private loans are

credit-based, and therefore it is very difficult to receive loan

approvals. Families often need co-signers on the loan and you need

a very strong financial services person to help them find a way to

pay. They may have few other options unless they can pay cash and

you will need a scholarship program to help them pay.

What is really critical is that you maintain sufficient

"financial stability" criteria each year (through student

enrollment, or revenue growth, and expense management) that you

continue to receive license renewals each year - again this is the

state's function to protect the students.

What you strive for in addition to financial stability is

sufficient institutional quality planning and process

implementation that proves your worthiness for a grant of

accreditation, which is another step in the regulatory compliance


Once accredited, you must pass more intense financial scrutiny

to obtain approval from the U.S. Department of Education to

participate in "Title IV" Federal Financial Aid programs. This last

step is so critical to the long-term growth and success of your

institution. Post a message on my board if you have further

questions or need help determining if this path is for you!

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