By Mackenzie McCoy
SB 1433 (Roth), as amended August 24, 2022, extends the sunset date for the BPPE and California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (Act) to January 1, 2027. The bill extends BPPE’s operations for another four years as existing law extending the Act is set to expire on January 1, 2023. Due to several delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, BPPE has not had a formal sunset hearing since 2015. In 2019, BPPE published a Sunset Review Report ahead of its planned March 2020 hearing date. [25:2 CRLR 117–119] After several postponements, BPPE had a brief hearing and review in 2021 that only extended the Bureau’s sunset review for one year. In 2022, BPPE published an Addendum to its 2019 report adding updates to issues from the 2019 report and creating additional issues to be addressed at the next sunset hearing. [26:1 CRLR 146; 26:2 CRLR 158–161; 27:1 CRLR 177–179; 27:2 CRLR 143]
Along with extending the proposed sunset review date, the bill authorizes out-of-state public postsecondary institutions that have a physical presence in California to obtain their approval to operate from BPPE. According to the bill analysis, such institutions will be subject to the same regulations as private postsecondary educational institutions operating in the state. However, some institutions are exempt from these new rules, such as out-of-state institutions who do not award degrees or if the program’s total charges do not exceed $2,500, so long as no part of the charges can be paid by either state or federal student financial aid programs.
This bill also allows BPPE to deny an application for approval to operate for institutions that have engaged in or employ those who have engaged in misconduct. This detail is incredibly important given that, according to recent litigation outcomes, private postsecondary educational institutions have been a hotbed for bad actors and those seeking to exploit vulnerable populations. Allowing BPPE more control in this area may help limit the amount of corruption found in the operation of private postsecondary educational institutions further protecting the public.
Supporters of the bill argue that BPPE serves a very important “first line of defense” for the public to shield them from would-be predatory institutions. The amendments within the bill allow BPPE to be more proactive in assisting those at risk of harm before such harm occurs. On the other hand, those against the bill argue that BPPE only needs a basic sunset extension and that the addendums are excessive and problematic.
The bill was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 25, 2022 (Chapter 544, Statutes of 2022).