Career Schools Information from the New York Department of State's Division of Consumer Protection

Students Urged to Attend Licensed Private "Proprietary" Career Schools to Get the Education They Deserve

State Agencies Urge Applicants to Carefully Research "P" Schools before Deciding to Attend

With the start of the new school year, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection and New York State Education Department (SED) are urging students who attend private career schools, also known as proprietary schools, which offer certificate or diploma programs to learn a trade or to prepare for a business occupation, to make sure their school is licensed by the State. 

There are about 450 licensed private “proprietary” schools in New York, offering training leading to the possibility of a career in Medical Assistance, Nursing as a Certified Nurse’s Aide, Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics & Nail Technology, Personal Trainer, Computer Applications and Programming, Auto Mechanic, Audio/Visual and Film Careers, Construction Trades. These schools are required by law to be licensed, and must meet rigorous State standards to help assure that the educational programs they offer meet these standards. Licensed schools provide many benefits to their students that are not available from unlicensed schools. 

Licensed schools afford students with protections, such as tuition refunds available through the State’s Tuition Refund Account (TRA) and a formal complaint process, and provide quality education by licensed instructors. The location and standards of unlicensed schools are not known to the State, making oversight difficult. Unfortunately, there are also many trade schools operating without licenses. Prospective students are strongly advised to do their homework before plunking down their money. The Division and SED recommend that students check to see if there are any complaints against their schools, as even some licensed schools may be identified by the State as problematic. However, since these schools are known to the State and their performance is tracked, students have recourse should the school be closed or present problems requiring corrective action. 

Students attending licensed private career schools receive many benefits and protections which can not be provided to students who attend non‐licensed schools. Licensed schools provide: 

  • Job training recognized by employers
  • State approved admission requirements, catalogs and enrollment agreements
  • State authorized directors and instructors
  • State approved curriculum and equipment, reviewed by experts in the field
  • State determined refund policies
  • Student tuition protection and reimbursement provisions
  • Facilities meeting State and local building, fire and health codes

In order to increase consumer understanding of the benefits of attending licensed proprietary schools, the Division and SED have created a brochure containing tips, available through the Division or the SED’s Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision, and will be posted in Chinese, English, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.  The Agencies conduct outreach and education sessions on a continuing basis, and upon request, statewide. 

To obtain further information about choosing a private career school, to find out if a particular school is licensed, or to see if complaints have been filed against a school, contact the SED’s Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision or calling (212) 643‐4760 or (518) 474‐3969. 

Complaints about a proprietary school may be lodged with SED or Division via their respective websites.