Private Career Colleges (PCC): Frequently Asked Questions for Students



Frequently Asked Questions for Students

What is a private career college?

There are more than 500 registered private career colleges in Ontario. These colleges are independent businesses and not-for-profit institutions that are regulated by the Ontario government.

Under the law – the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 – private career colleges must be registered and have their programs approved by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The law is in place to protect students and to make sure you receive the education and training you are promised. It ensures that private career colleges meet certain standards for their programs, advertising, refund policies and instructor qualifications.

How do I know if a private career college is registered?

You can find a list of registered colleges and approved programs on the Service Ontario website. If a private career college or program is not listed here, then it is not registered or approved by the government.

What happens if I enrol in a college that is not registered by the government or a program that is not approved by the government?

If you enrol in an unregistered college or an unapproved program, you will not be covered by the protections provided by the government under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005.

How do I enrol in a private career college?

To enrol in a college program, you will need to sign an enrolment contract similar to this ministry sample contract. The contract outlines the services the college is obligated to provide to you. This contract must be signed by you and the college's owner or representative.

If I change my mind, can I cancel my contract with a college?

You can cancel a contract by delivering a written notice to the college within two days of signing it. Within this period, you are entitled to a full refund of fees paid for the program, including any application fee.

How do colleges charge and collect tuition fees?

Colleges are only allowed to charge and collect fees in Canadian dollars.

They can only charge the fees for programs that are published on the Service Ontario website.

Colleges may not charge more than the amount published on the Service Ontario website.

The college may ask you to pay a fee for enrolment costs. However, until you sign a contract, you are only obligated to pay 20 per cent of the total fees for the program or $500, whichever is less.

If I withdraw from the college am I entitled to a refund?

You can withdraw from a program for any reason and be entitled to a refund.

If you provide the college with written notice of your decision to withdraw within two days of signing an enrolment contract, you are entitled to a full refund of the fees you paid. If you withdraw from a program after that, you will be entitled to a partial refund.

For a complete explanation of refund rules, see the Statement of Students' Rights and Responsibilities.

How do I check if a private career college and its programs are recognized by employers or other educational institutions?

It is up to each employer or educational institution to decide whether or not to recognize programs offered by private career colleges. You would need to ask individual employers and educational institutions if they recognize college and the program.

What do I do if a college is not providing the education and training I expected?

All colleges must have a student complaint procedure in place.

You must go through this procedure first. If you are not satisfied, you can then lodge a formal complaint with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

A student complaint form can be downloaded here.

What happens if a college shuts down before the end of a program?

Although sudden college closures are very rare, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities will try to find you a placement with another college offering a similar program.

If you decide not to complete the program, you are entitled to receive a refund of fees paid for the portion of the program that has not been delivered.

Are there special rules for international students who want to attend a private career college in Ontario?

The same rules that apply to Canadian students apply to international students, with two exceptions relating to fee collection and fee refunds.

Fee collection

A private career college can charge a special international student fee, which must be posted on the Service Ontario website.

The college is allowed to collect no more than 25 per cent of the total fees for a program before the program begins. Some colleges are required to hold the money in a trust account until you begin the program. You should ask the college for details of its trust fund arrangement when you pay your fees.

Fee refunds

Like Canadian students, you can cancel your contract with a private career college with written notice for any reason.

In addition, a special rule applies if you are unable to get a student visa to study in Canada after you have enrolled in a program. If you give the college written notice that the visa has been denied before the mid point of the program, you are entitled to a partial refund. The college is allowed to keep 20 per cent of the total fees for the program or $500, whichever is less.