Last updated: 6/21/17

Student Tuition Recovery Fund

The Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) is a fund administered by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (Bureau) that relieves or mitigates economic loss suffered by a student while enrolled in a qualifying institution – generally one that is approved or registered by the Bureau. At the time of his or her enrollment, the student must have been a California resident or enrolled in a California residency program, prepaid tuition, and suffered economic loss.

STRF REQUIREMENTS

Approved and registered institutions are required to comply with the following STRF requirements:

  • ✓ Include the following STRF disclosure in the enrollment agreement and schedule of charges listed in the catalog*:
    • "You must pay the state-imposed assessment for the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) if all of the following applies to you:
    • 1. You are a student in an educational program, who is a California resident, or are enrolled in a residency program, and prepay all or part of your tuition either by cash, guaranteed student loans, or personal loans, and
    • 2. Your total charges are not paid by any third-party payer such as an employer, government program or other payer unless you have a separate agreement to repay the third party.
    • You are not eligible for protection from the STRF and you are not required to pay the STRF assessment, if the following applies:

    • 1. You are not a California resident, or are not enrolled in a residency program."
    • ✓ Include the following STRF disclosure in the schedule of charges*:

    • "The State of California created the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) to relieve or mitigate economic losses suffered by students in educational programs who are California residents, or are enrolled in a residency programs attending certain schools regulated by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education.
    • You may be eligible for STRF if you are a California resident or are enrolled in a residency program, prepaid tuition, paid the STRF assessment, and suffered an economic loss as a result of any of the following:
      1. The school closed before the course of instruction was completed.
      2. The school's failure to pay refunds or charges on behalf of a student to a third party for license fees or any other purpose, or to provide equipment or materials for which a charge was collected within 180 days before the closure of the school.
      3. The school's failure to pay or reimburse loan proceeds under a federally guaranteed student loan program as required by law or to pay or reimburse proceeds received by the school prior to closure in excess of tuition and other costs.
      4. There was a material failure to comply with the Act or this Division within 30 days before the school closed or, if the material failure began earlier than 30 days prior to closure, the period determined by the Bureau.
      5. An inability after diligent efforts to prosecute, prove, and collect on a judgment against the institution for a violation of the Act."
  • ✓ Collect STRF assessments (if applicable) from enrolling students
  • ✓ Remit collected STRF assessments to the Bureau
  • ✓ Complete and submit STRF Assessment Reporting Form to the Bureau by:
Quarter Submission Deadline
1st April 30th
2nd July 31st
3rd October 31st
4th January 31st

*The Bureau is currently proposing regulatory changes that would affect the above disclosure language if approved by the Office of Administrative Law.

Sample STRF Assessment Reporting Form

STRF Sample Page

STRF FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Students who, at the time of enrollment, were California residents or enrolled in a California residency program may be eligible for reimbursement from the STRF if they were enrolled in a qualifying institution, prepaid tuition, and suffered an economic loss.

A STRF assessment is a fee that Bureau-approved and registered institutions are required to collect from California residents or students enrolled in a California residency program upon collection of the first payment at or after enrollment. On a quarterly basis, institutions are required to complete and submit a STRF Assessment Reporting Form and (when applicable) remit payment to the Bureau for the total STRF assessments collected from students.

Effective January 1, 2015, the current STRF assessment rate is zero dollars ($0). Although Bureau-approved and registered institutions are not currently required to collect STRF assessments from students, institutions are still required to complete and submit the STRF Assessment Reporting Forms issued by the Bureau. Institutions are also required to maintain all back-up documentation supporting the information reported on their STRF Assessment Reporting Forms.

Institutions should mail completed STRF Assessment Reporting Forms to the address listed at the top of the form.

All STRF-related inquiries should be emailed to STRF@dca.ca.gov.

REFERENCE

Section 94801.5, California Education Code

(a) Effective July 1, 2017, an out-of-state private postsecondary educational institution shall register with the bureau, pay a fee pursuant to Section 94930.5, and comply with all of the following:

(1) The institution shall provide the bureau with all of the following information:

(A) Evidence of accreditation.

(B) Evidence that the institution is approved to operate in the state where the institution maintains its main administrative location.

(C) The agent for service of process consistent with Section 94943.5.

(D) A copy of the institution's catalog and sample enrollment agreement.

(2) The institution shall comply with the requirements of the Student Tuition Recovery Fund, established in Article 14 (commencing with Section 94923), and regulations adopted by the bureau related to the fund, for its students residing in California.

(3) The institution shall provide disclosures pursuant to the requirements for the Student Tuition Recovery Fund, established in Article 14 (commencing with Section 94923), and regulations adopted by the bureau related to the fund, for its students residing in California.

(b) This section does not apply to nonpublic higher education institutions that grant undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, or both, and that are formed as nonprofit corporations and are accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.

(c) An institution described in subdivision (a) that fails to comply with this section is not authorized to operate in this state.

(d) A registration with the bureau pursuant to this section shall be valid for two years.

(e) The bureau shall develop, through emergency regulations, a registration form. The adoption of these regulations shall be deemed to be an emergency and necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, or general welfare for purposes of Sections 11346.1 and 11349.6 of the Government Code. These emergency regulations shall become law through the regular rulemaking process by January 1, 2018.

Section 94923, California Education Code

(a)The Student Tuition Recovery Fund relieves or mitigates economic loss suffered by a student while enrolled in an institution not exempt from this article pursuant to Article 4 (commencing with Section 94874), who, at the time of his or her enrollment, was a California resident or was enrolled in a California residency program, prepaid tuition, and suffered economic loss.

(b) (1) The bureau shall adopt, by regulation, procedures governing the administration and maintenance of the Student Tuition Recovery Fund. The fund shall be used to provide awards to students who suffer economic loss.

(2) The following students, and any other students deemed appropriate, are eligible for payment from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund:

(A) Any student who was enrolled at an institution, at a location of the institution, or in an educational program offered by the institution, at the time that institution, location, or program was closed or discontinued, as applicable, who did not choose to participate in a teach-out plan approved by the bureau or did not complete a chosen teach-out plan approved by the bureau.

(B) Any student who was enrolled at an institution or a location of the institution within the 120-day period before the closure of the institution or location of the institution, or who was enrolled in an educational program within the 120-day period before the program was discontinued.

(C) Any student who was enrolled at an institution or a location of the institution more than 120 days before the closure of the institution or location of the institution, in an educational program offered by the institution as to which the bureau determines there was a significant decline in the quality or value of the program more than 120 days before closure.

(D) Notwithstanding the requirement that a student attend an institution that is not exempt from this article, pursuant to subdivision (a), a student who was enrolled at a California campus of a Corinthian Colleges, Inc., institution or was a California student enrolled in an online program offered by an out-of-state campus of a Corinthian Colleges, Inc., institution, who also meets all of the other eligibility requirements, if the student was enrolled as of June 20, 2014, or withdrew within 120 days of that date or any greater period determined by the bureau pursuant to this section.

(E) A student to whom an institution has been ordered to pay a refund by the bureau but has failed to do so.

(F) A student to whom an institution has failed to pay or reimburse loan proceeds under a federal student loan program as required by law, or has failed to pay or reimburse proceeds received by the institution in excess of tuition and other costs.

(G) A student who has been awarded restitution, a refund, or other monetary award by an arbitrator or court, based on a violation of this chapter by an institution or representative of an institution, but who has been unable to collect the award from the institution. The bureau shall review the award or judgment and shall ensure the amount to be paid from the fund does not exceed the student's economic loss.

(H) Notwithstanding the definition of economic loss in subdivision (f), for purposes of recovery from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund, a student who has sought legal counsel that resulted in the cancellation of one or more student loans in connection with his or her Student Tuition Recovery Fund claim may seek reimbursement for legal services rendered in an amount up to five hundred dollars ($500). The bureau shall review the invoice of the legal services rendered and evidence of the cancellation of the student loan or loans, and upon verifying that cancellation, pay the claim directly to the student.

(c) Any student who is required to pay a Student Tuition Recovery Fund assessment who pays tuition equal to or greater than the required assessment shall be deemed to have paid the required assessment, whether or not his or her enrollment agreement specifies collection of the required assessment, and whether or not the institution identifies any money collected from the student as a Student Tuition Recovery Fund assessment.

(d) A student who suffers educational opportunity losses, whose charges are paid by a third-party payer, is eligible for educational credits under the fund.

(e) The bureau may seek repayment to the Student Tuition Recovery Fund from an institution found in violation of the law for which a student claim was paid. An institution shall not be eligible to renew its approval to operate with the bureau if the repayment is not made to the bureau as requested.

(f) For purposes of this section, "economic loss" includes, but is not necessarily limited to, pecuniary loss, which is the sum of the student's tuition, all other institutional charges as defined in Section 94844, the cost of equipment and materials required for the educational program as defined in Section 94837, interest on any student loan used to pay for such charges, collection costs, penalties, and any license or examination fees the student paid to the institution but is unable to recover. Economic loss shall also include the amount the institution collected and failed to pay to third parties on behalf of the student for license fees or any other purpose. Economic loss does not include Student Tuition Recovery Fund assessments, unless the student is entitled to a full refund under Section 94919 or 94920, room and board, supplies, transportation, application fees, or nonpecuniary damages such as inconvenience, aggravation, emotional distress, or punitive damages. Economic loss does not include legal fees, attorney fees, court costs, or arbitration fees. Nothing in this subdivision shall prevent the bureau from further defining economic loss to include loss of educational opportunity.

(g) As a condition of the bureau satisfying a student loan obligation on behalf of a Student Tuition Recovery Fund applicant, the loan servicer or debtholder shall submit a letter stating that the servicer or holder will no longer collect on the debt and shall report the debt as "paid in full" to all credit reporting agencies. The bureau shall retain a copy of that letter and provide the original to the applicant.

(h) Except as provided in subdivision (i), the bureau shall require a student seeking reimbursement from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund to file a written application that shall be received by the bureau no later than four years after the date of the action that made the student eligible for recovery from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund. 

(i) Any student whose loan is revived by a loan holder or debt collector after a period of noncollection by the holder or collector may, at any time, file a written application for recovery from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund for the debt that would have been otherwise eligible for recovery under this section.

Section 94924, California Education Code

(a) The bureau shall determine the amount of Student Tuition Recovery Fund assessments to be collected for each student.

(b) All assessments collected pursuant to this article shall be credited to the Student Tuition Recovery Fund, along with any accrued interest, for the purpose of this article. Notwithstanding Section 13340 of the Government Code, the moneys in the Student Tuition Recovery Fund are continuously appropriated to the bureau, without regard to fiscal year, for the purposes of this article.

(c) Except when an institution provides a full refund pursuant to Section 94919 or Section 94920, the Student Tuition Recovery Fund assessment is nonrefundable.

Section 94925, California Education Code

(a) The amount in the Student Tuition Recovery Fund shall not exceed twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) at any time.

(b) If the bureau has temporarily stopped collecting the Student Tuition Recovery Fund assessments because the fund has approached the twenty-five million dollar limit in subdivision (a), the bureau shall resume collecting Student Tuition Recovery Fund assessments when the fund falls below twenty million dollars ($20,000,000).

(c) An otherwise eligible student who enrolled during a period when institutions were not required to collect Student Tuition Recovery Fund assessments is eligible for Student Tuition Recovery Fund payments despite not having paid any Student Tuition Recovery Fund assessment. e(11)

Section 71800(e)(11), California Code of Regulations

In addition to the requirements of section 94911 of the Code, an institution shall provide to each student an enrollment agreement that contains at the least the following information:

 (e) Itemization of all institutional charges and fees including, as applicable:

 (11) Student Tuition Recovery Fund fee (non-refundable)

Section 76020, California Code of Regulations

(a) The fund exists to relieve or mitigate economic losses suffered by a student in an educational program as defined in section 94837 of the Code at a qualifying institution, who is or was a California resident or was enrolled in a residency program, if the student enrolled in the institution, prepaid tuition, paid the assessment, and suffered loss as a result of any of the following:

(1) The closure of the institution;

(2) The institution's failure to pay refunds or charges on behalf of a student to a third party for license fees or any other purposes, or to provide equipment or materials for which a charge was collected within 180 days before the closure of the institution;

(3) The institution's failure to pay or reimburse loan proceeds under a federally guaranteed student loan program as required by law or to pay or reimburse proceeds received by the institution prior to closure in excess of tuition and other costs;

(4) A significant decline in the quality or value of the educational program within the 30-day period before the closure of the institution or, if the decline began before that period, the period of decline determined by the Bureau, to a degree that results in the institution's failure to meet minimum operating or academic standards; and

(5) The student's inability to collect a judgment entered against a qualifying institution for a violation of the Act, subject to all of the following:

(A) The student has reasonably tried, and failed, to collect on the judgment. The Bureau will determine the reasonableness of the effort on a case-by-case basis;

(B) The Bureau receives the student's application within 4 years from the school's closure;

(C) The student has not received reimbursement or forgiveness from any other source.

(b) A student whose total charges were paid by a third-party payer is not eligible to make a claim.

Section 76120, California Code of Regulations

(a) Each qualifying institution shall collect an assessment of zero dollars ($0) per one thousand dollars ($1,000) of institutional charges, rounded to the nearest thousand dollars, from each student in an educational program who is a California resident or is enrolled in a residency program. For institutional charges of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or less, the assessment is zero dollars ($0).

(b) Unless a student has a separate agreement to repay the third party, a student whose costs are paid to the institution by third-party payer shall not pay the STRF assessment to the qualifying institution.

(c) Except when an institution provides a 100% refund pursuant to section 94919(d) or section 94920(b) of the Code, the assessment is non-refundable.

Section 76140, California Code of Regulations

(a) A qualifying institution shall collect and maintain records of student information to substantiate the data reported on the STRF Assessment Reporting Form and records of the students' eligibility under the Fund. Such records shall include the following for each student:

(1) Student identification number,

(2) First and last names,

(3) Email address,

(4) Local or mailing address,

(5) Address at the time of enrollment,

(6) Home address,

(7) Date enrollment agreement signed,

(8) Courses and course costs,

(9) Amount of STRF assessment collected,

(10) Quarter in which the STRF assessment was remitted to the Bureau,

(11) Third-party payer identifying information,

(12) Total institutional charges charged, and

(13) Total institutional charges paid.

(b) The qualifying institution shall maintain the data required under this section in an electronic format that is readily available and open to inspection by the Bureau upon request. The institution shall make the records immediately available to a Bureau representative conducting a site inspection or, upon written request, shall provide a copy within 14 calendar days of the request. All records shall be provided to the Bureau in an intelligible and orderly manner and in an electronic format.

Section 76215, California Code of Regulations

(a) A qualifying institution shall include the following statement on both its enrollment agreement for an educational program and its current schedule of student charges:

"You must pay the state-imposed assessment for the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) if all of the following applies to you:

1. You are a student in an educational program, who is a California resident, or are enrolled in a residency program, and prepay all or part of your tuition either by cash, guaranteed student loans, or personal loans, and

2. Your total charges are not paid by any third-party payer such as an employer, government program or other payer unless you have a separate agreement to repay the third party.

You are not eligible for protection from the STRF and you are not required to pay the STRF assessment, if either of the following applies:

1. You are not a California resident, or are not enrolled in a residency program, or

2. Your total charges are paid by a third party, such as an employer, government program or other payer, and you have no separate agreement to repay the third party."

(b) In addition to the statement described under subdivision (a) of this section, a qualifying institution shall include the following statement on its current schedule of student charges:

"The State of California created the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) to relieve or mitigate economic losses suffered by students in educational programs who are California residents, or are enrolled in a residency programs attending certain schools regulated by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education.

You may be eligible for STRF if you are a California resident or are enrolled in a residency program, prepaid tuition, paid the STRF assessment, and suffered an economic loss as a result of any of the following:

1. The school closed before the course of instruction was completed.

2. The school's failure to pay refunds or charges on behalf of a student to a third party for license fees or any other purpose, or to provide equipment or materials for which a charge was collected within 180 days before the closure of the school.

3. The school's failure to pay or reimburse loan proceeds under a federally guaranteed student loan program as required by law or to pay or reimburse proceeds received by the school prior to closure in excess of tuition and other costs.

4. There was a material failure to comply with the Act or this Division within 30 days before the school closed or, if the material failure began earlier than 30 days prior to closure, the period determined by the Bureau.

5. An inability after diligent efforts to prosecute, prove, and collect on a judgment against the institution for a violation of the Act."

However, no claim can be paid to any student without a social security number or a taxpayer identification number.

76240(b)(2), CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS

 All institutions, including those exempt from Bureau regulation pursuant to the Code, shall do the following prior to closing:

(b) The institution shall notify the students of the following:

(2) If any student will not be provided complete educational services or the educational program, information regarding the Student Tuition Recovery Fund and the Bureau's physical and Internet addresses.