The Bulletin Board

Under new law, state will stop regulating small career schools

By: - October 7, 2021 4:11 pm
Exterior of the State House

The bill passed with bipartisan support. (Getty Images)

New Hampshire will no longer regulate small private schools that offer career training – such as beauty schools and electrical training centers – under a new law that takes effect Saturday.

Under Senate Bill 148, any private vocational training center that brings in $100,000 or less in tuition every year will no longer need to be licensed by the state and will no longer be scrutinized by the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission.

The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, is designed to remove hurdles for start-up schools in the state that want to train professionals – and for businesses that are small to begin with, advocates say.

“This change will make it easier for smaller career schools to operate and promote the creation of new vocational schools in New Hampshire with minimal risk to participating students,” said Stephen Appleby, the Department of Education’s director of educator support and higher education, in a statement. 

Previously, New Hampshire law exempted certain classes from regulation if they were “avocational” – those related to hobbies. Only businesses that helped people learn a new occupation would be regulated. A business training people in skydiving would not be regulated, but a business training people to become skydiving instructors would be.

The regulations require businesses to be run by administrators with at least five years of experience in the courses being taught, or in post-secondary education. They require any business seeking licensure to share class descriptions, schedules, calendars, entry requirements, the grading system, and other details with the Higher Education Commission. They also required the businesses to share financial statements, ethics policies, student complaint policies, and a course of action to guarantee refunds.

Now, those licensing requirements will apply to larger businesses. 

In total, 41 schools in New Hampshire that had been regulated will now be exempt under the $100,000-per-year threshold, according to the Department of Education. The list includes training centers for massage therapy, dog grooming, hypnotism, midwifery, bartending, photographers, surgical technology, taxidermy, dental assistance, yoga teachers, radiation safety, and cybersecurity.

During testimony before the Senate earlier this year, owners of training centers said the high fees associated with the licensure had affected them negatively. Some cited an initial fee of $1,000 and subsequent annual costs of $450.

Maureen Miller, a yoga instructor in Concord, said the fees had made continuing classes difficult, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This has been a really challenging time for studios and small businesses,” she told a Senate panel in February. 

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Ethan DeWitt
Ethan DeWitt

Ethan DeWitt is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s education reporter. Previously, he worked as the New Hampshire State House reporter for the Concord Monitor, covering the state, the Legislature, and the New Hampshire presidential primary. A Westmoreland native, Ethan started his career as the politics and health care reporter at the Keene Sentinel.