The Commission has two means of hearing from students, faculty, staff, and members of the public about its member institutions: (1) Public Comments and (2) Complaints. Both offer important opportunities for the Commission to hear from individuals about the quality of affiliated institutions.
Neither the Public Comment nor the Complaint process is designed to offer a remedy for personal grievances. In no case are anonymous submissions accepted.
Public Comments consist of observations, positive or negative, about the quality of a member institution and its programs, based on an individual’s experiences. They must be substantive but need not include evidence. Comments may be written or emailed; there is no prescribed format for submitting the information.
In keeping with federal regulations, Public Comments must be solicited by the Commission and the institution during an institution’s comprehensive evaluation. Those received are forwarded to the institution’s president, who has the opportunity to respond. The Public Comment and institutional response, if any, are then sent to the Commission, which considers them as part of its decision on the institution’s evaluation for accreditation. (Consult the schedule of Upcoming Evaluations to see a list of institutions undergoing comprehensive evaluations.)
Public Comments may also be submitted outside the comprehensive evaluation cycle to be handled at the discretion of Commission staff.
Complaints are more formal expressions of concern regarding an institution’s compliance with the Standards for Accreditation. A required Complaint Form exists to help organize complicated information.
Criteria for Consideration of a Complaint:
A complaint must meet seven criteria to be considered by the Commission. A complaint must:
- Focus on general institutional conditions, not individual grievances.
- Cite specific Standards or Criteria that may be violated and provide substantial evidence of such violation. Such evidence should state relevant and provable facts beyond general allegations.
- Demonstrate that a serious effort has been made to pursue grievance or complaint procedures provided within the institution.
- Be submitted through the U.S. Mail or by common carrier on the Commission’s Complaint Form, signed, and include permission for the form and related materials to be forwarded to the institution. The Commission does not accept anonymous complaints.
- Include full disclosure about any other external channels the complainant is pursuing to resolve the complaint, including legal action.
- Be submitted in a timely manner and refer to current or recent matters at the institution. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the Commission will not consider complaints if the conditions alleged occurred more than three years prior to the filing of the complaint.
- Include a summary of the resolution the complainant is seeking.
Complaints are reviewed to ensure that they meet the Commission’s criteria listed above. Consult the FAQs About Complaints to ensure that your concern meets the criteria. Individuals with concerns that do not meet the criteria for complaints are encouraged to submit those concerns as Public Comments.
If the complaint meets the Commission’s seven criteria for consideration, it is forwarded to the institution’s president, who is asked to respond within 30 days. At its next regularly scheduled meeting, the Commission considers both the complaint and the institution’s response and determines whether or not further action is required. The complainant and the institution are notified in writing of the Commission’s decision in the matter.
For further information, consult the policy and procedures for Public Comments or the policy on Consideration of Complaints Against Affiliated Institutions. For guidance on filing either a Public Comment or Complaint, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registering a Complaint with a State
For information on registering a complaint against an institution with an agency within the student’s state of residency, refer to the contact information below:
Office of Higher Education
450 Columbus Boulevard, Suite 510
Hartford, CT 06103-1841
Maine Department of Education
23 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0023
Telephone: (207) 624-6600
Fax: (207) 624-6841
Maine Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
6 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Office of the Attorney General
Public Inquiry and Assistance Center
One Ashburton Place, 18th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Public Inquiry & Assistance Center Hotline: 617-727-8400.
New Hampshire Department of Education
Coordinator, Dispute Resolution and Constituent Complaints
101 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education
80 Washington Street
Providence, RI 02903
Rhode Island Department of Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
150 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903
Vermont Board of Education
Attn: Suzanne Sprague
VT Agency of Education
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05620-2501
Vermont Attorney General’s Office
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609-1001
Consumer Assistance Program
146 University Place
Burlington, VT 05405
Fax: (802) 656-1423
Consumer Hotline: Toll free in Vermont: (800) 649-2424 or (802) 656-3183