Private Career Colleges (PCC): Information for Students

Information for Students

What is a Private Career College?

Private career colleges (PCCs) are independent organizations that offer certificate and diploma programs in many fields, such as business, health services, human services, applied arts, information technology, electronics, services and trades. Some PCCs operate as for-profit businesses and others are not-for-profit institutions.

PCCs must be registered and have their programs approved by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005. This act ensures that PCCs meet certain standards for the programs they offer, as well as for their advertising, refund policies, and instructor qualifications.

You can find registered PCCs and approved programs using our online search tool. It is important to note that 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.

It's also important to be aware that there are a number of private organizations offering education or training programs that are not regulated by the province. These include language training programs, programs that are less than 40 hours in length, programs that cost less than $1,000, professional development and single-skill training programs.

Choosing the Right Program

Choosing to go to a private career college is a very important decision. Make sure you do your homework before you decide.

  • Check to make sure the college and program you are interested in is approved to operate in Ontario by searching for it here.
  • Take a close look at how the program can help you achieve your career goals.
  • Visit the college to see the facilities and the equipment it offers, or have someone you know and trust visit the college on your behalf.
  • Find out who your instructors will be.
  • Add up the total cost, including the application fee, tuition, lab fees, books, transportation, room and board.
  • Check with employers or other educational institutions to find out if they will recognize the program and the college.

Admission Requirements

To attend a private career college, you must meet the following admission requirements before your program starts:

  • Have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent, or
  • Be at least 18 years old and pass a qualifying test approved by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, or
  • Meet other academic qualifications or minimum age requirements set by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, and
  • Meet all additional admission requirements established by the college.

Financial Assistance for Students

As a student at a private career college, you may be eligible for financial aid from the Ontario government. Generally, only students enrolled in courses lasting 12 weeks or longer requiring Grade 12 or equivalent, are eligible for financial aid. For more complete details, check out the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

Enrolling in a Private Career College

Enrolment Contract

Once you have decided to enrol in a private career college program, you will need to sign an enrolment 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.

The contract must also include the Statement of Students' Rights and Responsibilities. This statement outlines the legal protection and obligations you have.

Any enrolment contract must include the following:

  • A Statement of Students' Rights and Responsibilities outlining the legal protection and obligations you have.
  • The name, address, telephone number and email address of the student.
  • Approved name of the program.
  • The start and expected completion date of the program.
  • The language of instruction for the program.
  • The admission requirements for the program.
  • A list of student fees in Canadian dollars.
  • Statements that (1) the college does not guarantee employment to students or prospective students who complete the program and (2) the contract is subject to the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005 and the regulations made under the act.
  • Your initials acknowledging you have received the college's refund policy and the Statement of Students' Rights and Responsibilities.
  • Your initials acknowledging you have received the college's complaint procedure and expulsion policy.
  • A request for your consent to provide personal information to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
  • The schedule of hours of instruction.
  • The location of the practicum, if applicable.

Refunds

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. A private career college is also required to issue you a receipt every time you pay a fee. You should keep all receipts on file.

Once you sign the contract, you have two days to decide if you really want to take the program. If you change your mind and inform the college in writing before the end of the two days, you are entitled to a full refund of all fees you paid including any application fee.

Examine the contract carefully to find out how much it will cost if you decide to leave the program before your training is completed.

Filing a Complaint Against a Private Career College

By law, every private career college must have a student complaint procedure. If you file a complaint with the college and you are not satisfied with the response, you may then complete a Student Complaint Form and submit it to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. The ministry will determine whether the college has violated the law.

Both you and the college will be provided with a written response to your complaint from the ministry usually within three to four weeks from when it was received. More complicated or incomplete complaints may take longer to process.

Key Performance Indicators – Notice of Indirect Collection and Use of Personal Information

The Superintendent of Private Career Colleges collects limited personal information about current student or graduates of private career colleges from the private career colleges. The Superintendent has the authority to collect this personal information under subsections 36.1-36.3 of Ontario Regulation 415/06, made under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005: PART VII. 1) Information Concerning Students And Graduates. Please note that your private career college is required by law to disclose to the Superintendent the elements of personal information that are listed in the regulation.

The Superintendent uses the personal information solely for the purpose of developing performance indicators for vocational programs in Ontario. The Superintendent has engaged a third party service provider to collect the following Key Performance Indicators: Graduation Rate; Graduate Employment Rate; Graduate Employment Rate in the Field of Study; Graduate Satisfaction; and Employer Satisfaction. The service provider will be surveying graduates of private career colleges six months after graduation to provide them with the opportunity to comment on their vocational training experiences.

Information on the performance indicators will be published in an aggregate form so that individuals cannot be identified. This information will allow current and prospective students to make more informed choices about their education.

If you have any questions about the collection and use of your personal information, you can contact Rachel Ross, Senior Policy Advisor, Private Career Colleges Branch, at Rachel.Ross@Ontario.ca.