The Education Licensure Commission (ELC, Commission) was established by the Educational Institution Licensure Commission Act of 1976. The ELC division was initially located within the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). On January 23, 2003 administrative responsibility for the ELC was transferred to the State Education Office (SEO) and later the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). In 2016 the Commission was renamed Higher Education Licensure Commission (HELC) to reflect its focus on higher education.
The HELC is a Mayoral appointed, regulatory, consumer protection entity whose primary functions are to establish minimum standards concerning quality postsecondary education, advise the Mayor and City Council as to postsecondary educational needs of the District of Columbia, maintain essential academic records of closed postsecondary institutions, prohibit the granting of false postsecondary educational credentials, prohibit misleading advertising and solicitation by postsecondary educational institutions and provide as the state approving agency for veterans benefits. The Commission has the authority to implement, enforce and regulate post- secondary educational licensing, investigate complaints against institutions and agents and maintain and issue closed institution’s student records. The HELC protects the public against transient, unethical, deceptive and fraudulent educational institutions. The HELC assures quality by establishing standards in education, ethical business practices, fiscal responsibility, health and safety.
The Higher Education Licensure Commission Amendment Act of 2015 extended authority to the Commission to require institutions physically located outside the District of Columbia offering postsecondary degree granting or non-degree granting online programs or courses to District of Columbia residents to be licensed in the District of Columbia; and provided the Commission with the authority to enter into reciprocity agreements with regards to online instruction. Additionally, the act added authority for the Commission to impose civil fines and penalties on institutions of higher education operating in the District of Columbia that are not in compliance with licensure requirements.
The regulatory authority is executed by five resident Commissioners appointed by the Mayor.
The Commission is supported by a staff.
The mission of the Education Licensure Commission (ELC) is to ensure that quality postsecondary education and training exist in the District of Columbia.