State Authorization

Columbia Southern University (CSU) is a private for-profit institution located in Orange Beach, Alabama and licensed by the State of Alabama Community College System. CSU seeks authorization, as applicable, in U.S. states and territories in compliance with federal and state regulations that govern the offering of online programs. CSU is in a continuous process to monitor regulations in states and territories in which it offers programs and courses. Information about CSU’s status in each state is listed below. Prospective students should review regulatory information and professional licensing requirements in your state of residence.

NC SARA

Columbia Southern University has been approved by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education.

As an approved SARA institution, CSU only needs home state authorization to offer distance education to students residing in any other SARA member state. SARA member states can be viewed on the NC-SARA map.

For specific information regarding state authorization contact:

Alexis Banks
Director for State Authorization & Licensure
Email: alexis.banks@columbiasouthern.edu

*Updated 09/22/2016

States

CSU has been approved for authorization in the following states. Please note that some SARA member states are listed, and CSU plans to withdraw authorization in those states prior to the end of the current authorization period.

Alabama

Columbia Southern University is licensed by the State of Alabama, Community College System pursuant to the Alabama Private School License Law, Code of Alabama, Title 16-46-1 through 10 (Certificate number 05-888-17). 
State of Alabama License (pdf)Alabama License pdf icon

Alaska

CSU is exempt from authorization under AS 14.48 as an online distance delivered program and does not have a physical presence in the state.
State of Alaska Authorizationpdf icon

Arizona

CSU’s programs are not under the jurisdiction of the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education since the university has no physical presence in Arizona.

Arkansas

The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board (AHECB) initially granted certification to Columbia Southern University to offer degree and certificate programs by distance technology on July 25, 2014. Arkansas confirmed on May 3, 2016 that as a SARA institution CSU no longer has to submit programs for certification unless the programs lead to licensure. CSU will maintain its certification through the expiration on December 31, 2017.
State of Arkansas Authorizationpdf icon

Arkansas State Refund Policy

The Arkansas State Refund Policy applies when students who are residents of Arkansas withdraw, drop, or are administratively dropped from a course or the institution.

Proportion of Total Course, Program, or Term Completed as of Tuition Refund Date of Withdrawal or Termination

Tuition Due Student:
 
Amount of Course Taken Refund Amount
Less than 25% Prorated
25% up to but not including 50% 50% Refund
50% up to but not including 75% 25% Refund
75% or more No Refund

 

California

CSU is not required to be licensed by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education since the institution has no physical presence in California.

Colorado

CSU’s online programs and activities do not constitute physical presence within Colorado; therefore, Colorado approval is not required to continue offering online degree and certificate programs.

Connecticut

CSU is not required to be licensed by the Connecticut Department of Higher Education since the institution does not have a physical presence in Connecticut.

Delaware

CSU is not incorporated in Delaware and does not have a physical presence. Therefore, Delaware Department of Education approval is not required.

District of Columbia

CSU is not required to be licensed by the District of Columbia Education Licensure Commission.

Florida

CSU is not required to be licensed with the Florida Commission for Independent Education (Commission) since the institution is not physically located in Florida and instructors do not have face-to-face contact with students. However, CSU agents are approved by the Commission to recruit and solicit students in the State of Florida

Georgia

CSU is authorized by the Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission to offer instruction (certificate number 7586).
State of Georgia Authorization pdf icon

Hawaii

CSU does not have physical presence in the State of Hawaii; therefore, authorization is not required.

Idaho

CSU is not required to register in Idaho, since it is an online-only school outside of Idaho.

Illinois

CSU received approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education to operate in Illinois.
State of Illinois Limited Physical Presence Letter pdf icon

Indiana

Columbia Southern University was initially granted authorization as an out-of-state institution with no physical presence in Indiana to enroll and offer online instruction or distance education to Indiana residents on January 17, 2014. Indiana confirmed on June 10, 2016 that no further renewals are to be submitted as long as CSU remains a SARA institutional partner. CSU will maintain its authorization through the expiration of January 16, 2017.
State of Indiana Authorizationpdf icon

Indiana State Refund Policy

The Indiana State Refund Policy applies when students who are residents of Indiana withdraw, drop, or are administratively dropped from a course or the institution.

Tuition Due Student:

Proportion of Total Course, Program, or Term Completed as of Tuition Refund Date of Withdrawal or Termination

Amount of Course Taken Refund Amount
Less than 10% 90% Refund
10% up to but not including 25% 75% Refund
25% up to but not including 50% 50% Refund
50% up to but not including 75% 25% Refund
75% or more No Refund

Iowa

CSU was initially approved by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission to operate as a distance education program provider in Iowa on March 15, 2013. Iowa confirmed on April 21, 2016 that CSU has no registration obligations to Iowa as a SARA institution.

Iowa State Refund Policy

The Iowa State Refund Policy applies when students who are residents of Iowa withdraw, drop, or are administratively dropped from a course or the institution and is calculated as follows:

Remaining # of calendar days (up to 60% of the total calendar days)
Divided by
The total number of calendar days (up to 60% of the total calendar days)
Multiplied by 90% of the charged tuition.
If at any time, a student terminates a postsecondary educational program due to the student’s physical incapacity, the terminating student shall receive a refund of tuition charges in an amount that equals the amount of tuition charged to the student multiplied by the ratio of the remaining number of calendar days in the school period to the total number of calendar days in the school period.

Kansas

CSU received a certificate of approval to operate in the State of Kansas (Certificate number 300051). CSU was initially approved to operate in the State of Kansas in November 2011. 
State of Kansas Approval PDF

Kentucky

CSU is licensed as an out-of-state institution by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to offer degree programs and certificates.
State of Kentucky ApprovalPDF

Louisiana

CSU is not regulated by the Board of Regents, since it offers courses and programs fully online and does not maintain physical facilities in the State of Louisiana.

Maine

CSU is exempt from State of Maine approval or authorization requirements to offer online instructional programming to citizens of Maine.
State of Maine Authorization Letterpdf icon The link will open a new page.

Maryland

CSU was initially registered with the Maryland Higher Education Commission to enroll Maryland students in fully online distance education programs on November 8, 2012. CSU notified Maryland of its SARA status on April 1, 2016 after determining the institution would not need to submit a renewal application for the 2016-2017 approval period.

Maryland State Refund Policy

The Maryland State Refund Policy applies when students who are residents of Maryland withdraw, drop, or are administratively dropped from a course or the institution.

Tuition Due Student:

Proportion of Total Course, Program, or Term Completed as of Tuition Refund Date of Withdrawal or Termination

Amount of Course Taken Refund Amount
Less than 10% 90% Refund
10% up to but not including 20% 80% Refund
20% up to but not including 30% 60% Refund
30% up to but not including 40% 40% Refund
40% up to and including 60% 20% Refund
More than 60% No Refund

Massachusetts

CSU is not required to seek licensure with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to enroll residents of Massachusetts into online courses and programs.
Approval not Requiredpdf icon

Massachusetts Civil Service Disclosure
Students and prospective students who reside in a city or county that uses Massachusetts Civil Service for promotion should contact the Civil Service to determine eligibility to sit for promotional exams. Civil Service is a merit system under which state and municipal employees of police and fire departments may be hired and promoted.

Michigan

CSU has no physical presence in the State of Michigan and is therefore not required to be licensed to provide online instruction to Michigan residents.

Minnesota

CSU was initially registered as a private institution with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education on December 25, 2013. Minnesota confirmed on April 5, 2016 that CSU has no registration obligations to Minnesota as a SARA institution.

Mississippi

CSU offers programs solely online and is not regulated by the Mississippi Commission on College Accreditation. CSU is registered with the Mississippi Commission on Proprietary School & College Registration (License number C 682).

State of Mississippi Approvalpdf icon

Mississippi State Refund Policy

The Mississippi State Refund Policy applies to students who are residents of Mississippi and are enrolled in certificate programs.

Tuition Due Student:

Proportion of Total Course, Program, or Term Completed as of

Date of Withdrawal or Termination Tuition Refund
Up to 10% 90% Refund
More than 10% up to and including 25% 50% Refund
More than 25% up to and including 50% 25% Refund
More than 50% No Refund

The Mississippi Commission on Proprietary School & College Registration requires institutions to fully disclose information regarding institutional effectiveness and school policies to prospective students. While most information is found in the university catalog, the following document contains student information specific to Mississippi residents.

Institution Disclosure of Informationpdf icon

Missouri

CSU does not have a physical presence in the State of Missouri and, therefore, is not required to be licensed by the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

Montana

CSU is accredited by the accrediting commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and maintains a Financial Responsibility Composite Score of 2.5. This satisfies the requirements of Montana Code Annotated § 20-25-107 and Board of Regents Policy §221. Therefore, CSU is authorized to offer post-secondary degree programs in the State of Montana.
State of Montana Authorization pdf icon

Nebraska

CSU has no physical presence in Nebraska and is not required to seek authorization to offer online courses or programs.

Nevada

CSU is not required to be licensed in Nevada by the Commission on Postsecondary Education due to lack of physical presence. However, CSU is approved by the Commission to recruit students in the State of Nevada. All agents who recruit in Nevada are required by CSU to have an agent permit.

New Hampshire

CSU offers online education to New Hampshire residents which does not require authorization.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education notified the Distance Education and Training Council on June 21, 2012 that N.J.S.A. 18A:3-15.3 regulation includes all out-of-state institutions that have received accreditation from bodies recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or U.S. Department of Education as a duly authorized institution of higher education. CSU fully meets this requirement. The New Jersey Secretary of State confirmed in October 2013 that CSU is not required to seek licensure.

New Mexico

CSU is not required to register in the State of New Mexico since the institution offers online courses and programs and does not require an internship/externship.

New York

CSU has no physical presence in New York and is not required to seek approval.

North Carolina

CSU's activities within North Carolina do not require licensure by the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.

North Dakota

Columbia Southern University was initially granted exemption on April 28, 2014. CSU notified North Dakota of its SARA status on May 6, 2016 after determining the institution would not need to submit a renewal application for the 2016-2017 approval period. North Dakota confirmed on May 11, 2016 that CSU has no obligations to North Dakota as a SARA institution.

Ohio

CSU is exempt from the authorization of the Ohio Board of Regents. CSU is registered by the Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools to offer programs. CSU was initially approved by the board in October 2012.
State of Ohio Approvalpdf

Oklahoma

CSU delivers courses and programs exclusively through an online format and is therefore not required to be licensed by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

Oregon

CSU was approved to offer online courses, certificates, and degree programs to students in Oregon and to place students at appropriate sites in Oregon under the supervision and assessment of faculty and staff employed by this institution on September 23, 2013. CSU notified Oregon of its SARA status on May 6, 2016 and withdrew its renewal application for the 2015-2017 approval period. Oregon confirmed on April 13, 2016 that CSU has no state authorization requirements in Oregon as a SARA institution.

Pennsylvania

CSU is not required to seek approval with the Pennsylvania Department of Education since a physical presence has not been established. However, CSU has received confirmation to enroll residents of Pennsylvania through July 1, 2017.

Rhode Island

CSU is not required to be authorized by the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education since physical presence in the State of Rhode Island is not established.

South Carolina

CSU is not required to seek licensure with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, since physical presence in the state is not established.

South Dakota

The Secretary of State of the State of South Dakota has issued a certificate of authorization to Columbia Southern University to provide postsecondary education.
South Dakota Authorizationpdf icon

Tennessee

CSU has sent a regulatory compliance inquiry to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to confirm that the institution does not need to obtain authorization from the Commission.

Texas

CSU is exempt from oversight of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board since there is no physical presence in the state. The Board recognizes the accrediting commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). CSU is excluded from the Texas Workforce Commission's licensing requirements for enrolling Texas residents. CSU is not regulated in Texas under Chapter 132 of the Texas Education Code.  However, a CSU agent is approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Board to recruit and solicit students in the State of Texas.

Utah

CSU has met the requirements of Utah Code § 13-34a-204 to be a registered postsecondary school required under 34 C.F.R. 600.9 to be legally authorized by the State of Utah.
Letter of State Authorization PDF

Vermont

CSU is not required to be approved by the Vermont Department of Education or the State Board of Education since it only offers online programs with no physical presence in Vermont.

Virginia

CSU can offer postsecondary instruction via distance learning to residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, CSU does not meet Virginia's criterion of physical presence and is therefore ineligible for certification to operate in Virginia. As such, students who are residents of Virginia do not benefit from protections available to students attending institutions that are certified by SCHEV (http://www.schev.edu/highered/pope/Students.asp).

Washington

CSU is not currently required to be authorized by the Higher Education Coordinating Board. CSU has made inquiry into the state related to new regulatory language.

West Virginia

CSU does not meet the definition of physical presence as defined in Series 20, Authorization of Degree Granting Institution. Therefore, authorization to offer online programs to West Virginia residents is not required.

Wisconsin

CSU is approved by the Educational Approval Board to offer programs, subject to the provisions of Wisconsin Statutes 38.50 and all administrative rules adopted pursuant to the statutes. CSU was initially approved to operate in the State of Wisconsin in November 2011
State of Wisconsin ApprovalPDF

Wyoming

CSU is registered by the State of Wyoming, Department of Education pursuant to the Private Schools Licensing Act, Wyo. Stat. 21-2-401.
State of Wyoming License PDF

Territories

District of Columbia

CSU is not required to be licensed by the District of Columbia Education Licensure Commission.

Federated States of Micronesia

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has no regulations, policies, or laws that restrict US institutions providing distance education to citizens of FSM.
Federated States of Micronesia Letterpdf icon

Puerto Rico

According to Section 9.4 of Regulation for Licensing of Higher Education Institutions in Puerto Rico, No. 8265 (2012), the Licensing and Accrediting Area of the Puerto Rico Council on Education certifies that Columbia Southern University (CSU) is exempt from licensure to operate as an institution of higher education in Puerto Rico since it offers distance education programs to students in the Island.
Puerto Rico Exemption Letterpdf icon

Republic of the Marshall Islands

There are no regulations or rules in the Republic of the Marshall Islands regarding the authorization of distance education programs.
Marshall Islands Letterpdf icon

U.S. Virgin Islands

CSU has satisfied the requirements to provide post-secondary educational services to students in the United States Virgin Islands.

Pending

CSU sent a regulatory compliance inquiry to the following territories and is pending a response. 

  • American Samoa
  • Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands
  • Guam
  • Republic of Palau