Frequently Asked Questions for Schools, Students and Consumers

This page is intended to describe the Educational Approval Board (EAB) and what it does. It does not supersede statutes or administrative rule in defining the agency's roles and responsibilities.

  1. What does the EAB do?
  2. Why have an EAB?
  3. Whom does the EAB oversee?
  4. What exactly is a school?
  5. What training is approved?
  6. What about the public sector programs?
  7. What is exempt?
  8. How does the EAB define professional development?
  9. Does the EAB oversee distance learning via the Internet?
  10. What if a school is not approved?
  11. Are there benefits to being approved?
  12. What about fees?
  13. How do I start a school in Wisconsin?
  14. What does the approval process involve?
  15. Do schools renew their approval?
  16. Are there renewal fees?
  17. What about teaching locations?
  18. Are there advertising standards?
  19. How else are consumers protected?
  20. How do I file a complaint about a proprietary school?
  21. What if a school closes?
  22. What if the school is closed and I need a copy of my transcript?
  23. What is accreditation?

1. What does the EAB do?

The EAB protects consumers by approving and supervising private, postsecondary schools that offer occupational training and educational programs to Wisconsin residents.

2. Why have an EAB?

The EAB exists for two reasons: 1) to prevent consumers from being misled; and 2) to ensure consumers get quality programs. We do this by holding schools accountable.

3. Whom does the EAB oversee?

The EAB oversees for-profit, postsecondary schools (except cosmetology and real estate); out-of-state non-profit colleges and universities; in-state non-profit institutions incorporated after 1/1/92.

4. What exactly is a school?

A school is any entity (individual, business or institution) which charges tuition for postsecondary training or education. We define a school by what it does, not what it is called.

5. What training is approved?

Generally, the EAB approves training or education that leads to employment, a diploma, or degree. Such training or education is offered in a defined program.

6. What about public sector programs?

Any for-profit entity, or non-profit entity incorporated after 1/1/92, must be approved in order to contract with the Workforce Investment Act, W2, or Vocational Rehabilitation.

7. What is exempt?

The following kinds of training are exempt from EAB oversight:

  • religious or strictly sectarian training
  • professional development
  • training provided for a business with limited access to non-employees
  • employers training their own employees

8. How does the EAB define professional development?

We typically view professional development as training which increases the skills of individuals already qualified for an occupation. This sort of instruction does not fall under EAB jurisdiction. Training for upgrading of skills which leads to a higher level in an occupation may need to be approved.

9. Does the EAB oversee distance learning via the Internet?

State statutes say if a school serves a Wisconsin resident, it should be EAB approved unless the school is exempt. However, many schools offering programs and degrees via the Internet do not seek EAB approval. To protect themselves, consumers should contact the EAB before enrolling in schools offering distance learning programs.

10. What if a school is not approved?

Unapproved schools are breaking the law. The Attorney General enforces EAB statutes. An unapproved school is subject to a $500-a-day fine and other penalties.

11. Are there benefits to being approved?

EAB approval gives school credibility. A list of approved schools is made available to public agencies, job seekers, school counselors, and others interested in education and training.

12. What about fees?

Although the EAB is a state agency, it receives no tax monies to carry out its responsibilities. EAB charges fees for an initial school application as well as program, teaching location, change of ownership, and school representative applications. EAB-approved schools also pay annual renewal fees.

13. How do I start a school in Wisconsin?

If you want to start a proprietary or private school, go to the School and Program Approval Guide and Application Forms for information. Carefully read about the approval process--then contact an EAB education consultant to discuss the approval process and answer any questions.

14. What does the approval process involve?

The EAB has an application form, which is used to guide the process. The process generally look like this:

  • school requests application materials;
  • school personnel meets with an EAB education consultant to review application material;
  • school completes and submits the application materials and fee;
  • the education consultant does a completeness and compliance review of the materials submitted;
  • an industry consultant may evaluate programs;
  • the education consultant prepares and sends letter of findings to the school;
  • if needed, the school makes corrections to meet EAB requirements and resubmits revised materials;
  • when the application materials meet EAB requirements, the school is approved to operate.

15. Do schools renew their approval?

Every year a school must renew its approval by sending in a renewal application. The application is due in September prior to the calendar year for which the school is renewing its approval.

16. Are there renewal fees?

The annual renewal fee has two parts:

  1. a $500 fee due in September with the renewal application; and
  2. a second payment which is a percentage of the school's adjusted gross annual revenues minus refunds paid to students.

17. What about teaching locations?

The EAB requires that schools and teaching locations not pose a health or safety risk to students or staff and that they provide an adequate learning environment. The Division of Safety & Buildings inspects facilities. Schools must provide to us information about each location along with the appropriate application and fee.

18. Are there advertising standards?

The EAB expects each school to maintain high ethical standards in producing advertising and promotional materials. We have strict guidelines which bar misleading or unfounded claims by a school.

19. How else are consumers protected?

Complaint Handling

Periodically we receive student complaints. We investigate these only after they are put into written form from the complainant. We work with the school and the complainant to resolve the complaint. If we cannot resolve the situation, the student and/or the school may request a hearing before the board.

Other Protections

Schools must have refund policies, which enable students to withdraw or change their mind about attending a school without losing all tuition they have paid. We require that schools be bonded to protect students if a school closes or if it defrauds or misrepresents itself to the public. We require that enrollment documents and school catalogs contain specific information to allow students to make informed decisions regarding enrollment in a school or program.

20. How do I file a complaint about a proprietary school?

Obtain a copy of the school complaint process from the school you are attending. Talk to the teacher or person involved. State clearly what you need or want. If you are not satisfied, contact the education director or school owner. If you follow all the steps of the school process and you are still not satisfied, you may send a letter or call the EAB delineating your complaint, and the facts of the case, in writing. When the complaint is received, this office will contact the school and conduct an investigation into the situation which resulted in the complaint.

21. What if a school closes?

The EAB directly manages a closed school situation. We provide advice to students, work with surety companies to secure reimbursements and coordinate activities with other appropriate state and federal agencies. We also ensure that all school records are retained so that students can verify attendance for future education and employment needs.

22. What if a school is closed and I need a copy of my transcript?

The EAB does not have student records for all closed schools. If you need a transcript from a school that closed, please contact the EAB to see whether it has those records. If the EAB has the records, you will be contacted and informed about the process to obtain a copy of your transcript.

23. What is accreditation?

The term "accreditation" is often misunderstood or incorrectly used synonymously with "EAB approval." Most private postsecondary schools serving Wisconsin students, whether they are located within or outside the state, are required by state law to obtain the EAB's approval prior to advertising or providing training. Accreditation, on the other hand, is a non-governmental, voluntary peer review process. In addition to satisfying the state's legal requirements, EAB approval gives credibility to a school, regardless of whether or not it is accredited.

Please view State Approval and Accreditation: Detailed Description and State Approval and Accreditation: What is the Difference? for more information about accreditation.