Which schools qualify for an Exemption from Registration?

Schools that qualify for an Exemption from Registration generally operate from a physical location in Iowa and are not required to register under Iowa Code Section 261B.11(1) and (2). These schools must file an application with Iowa College Aid requesting authorization to operate in Iowa, demonstrating eligibility to claim an exemption from registration and substantiating compliance with student consumer protections. Applications for authorization must be renewed every two years, and there is no application fee due to Iowa College Aid.  

  • Colleges and universities authorized by the state of Iowa to grant degrees, i.e., Iowa’s public community colleges and Regent Universities.
  • Schools and educational programs conducted by religious organizations solely for religious instruction of leadership practitioners of the religious organization. Note: See the details for meeting a religious exemption below.
  • Iowa’s licensed cosmetology and barbering schools.
  • Private schools that meet the institutional eligibility criteria for the Iowa Tuition Grant Program.
  • Schools offering nondegree specialty career and technical training programs.
  • Iowa schools that are affiliated with an Iowa health care system and offer a postsecondary health care program that is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education. 
  • Iowa massage therapy schools that have curriculum approval from the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy and employ instructors who are licensed massage therapists.

What schools of religious study meet the conditions for an exemption from registration?

Unaccredited, degree granting schools conducted by religious organizations solely for the religious instruction of leadership practitioners of that religious organization may be authorized in Iowa if the school is not accredited*. See Iowa Code Section 261B.11(1)(h). This authorization requires a school to substantiate:

  • The school exclusively offers programs with a religious focus (e.g., pastoral leadership, religious education, ministry, religious missions, and church planting).
  • The school is affiliated with, sponsored or otherwise formally acknowledged by a specific, well-organized religious organization with sufficient infrastructure to provide ample leadership opportunities for the school's graduates.
  • The school confines its enrollment to persons who are, or who aspire to be, leadership practitioners of the specific religious organization with which the school is affiliated. 

Which additional requirements apply to schools that qualify for an exemption from registration?

For public colleges and universities, there are no additional requirements.

Nonpublic schools may be required to demonstrate compliance with student financial protections described in Iowa Code Sections 714.18 and 714.23. For-profit schools that do not participate in Federal Student Aid may be required to provide consumer information disclosures described in Iowa Code Section 714.25. For more information see Financial ResponsibilityTuition Refund Policy, and Disclosures.


Contact the Postsecondary Authorization Team