- How should I decide whether to file a complaint with the commission?
- Can I file a complaint about a criminal matter?
- Can the Commission hear a complaint about unfair financial aid awards?
- Can I simply send the Commission a copy of a complaint I originally sent to the institution or to another agency?
- Can I file a complaint anonymously?
- How does the Commission respond to complaints?
Q: How should I decide whether to file a complaint with the Commission?
Consider carefully what you hope to accomplish. The Commission’s complaint process is not designed to address individual problems or provide individualized resolutions.
Complaints will be considered by the Commission only if they focus on substantive institutional conditions that may indicate non-compliance with the Standards for Accreditation.
Some questions to ask to determine if your concern meets the Commission’s seven criteria for consideration:
- Does your complaint refer to current matters? Normally, the Commission does not consider matters that are alleged to have occurred more than three years prior to the filing of the complaint.
- Does your complaint refer to institutional conditions, not a personal grievance?
- Can you find language in the Standards for Accreditation related to your concern?
- Can you substantiate your complaint with evidence, not allegations?
- Have you tried to resolve the problem through the institution’s internal channels?
- Does your complaint refer to current or recent matters at the institution?
- Does your complaint include a summary of the resolutions you are seeking?
If you seek redress of a grievance, re-admission to a program, adjustment of a bill or grade, or action that would provide a personal remedy for your situation, the Commission’s complaint process is not for you. Instead, contact your institution’s ombudsperson or someone who can help you appeal an institutional decision. If you have already used your own institution’s internal process but have not received the outcome you wanted, you may wish to consider external structures such as a court of law, state or federal administrative agency such as the State’s Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, or private mediation and dispute resolution. The Commission’s complaint procedure is not a substitute for these processes and provides no personal remedies.
Q: Can I file a complaint about a criminal matter?
The Commission is a private, membership organization that evaluates the quality of higher education institutions. It is not a governmental body, nor is it charged with enforcing public law. Complaints regarding alleged criminal conduct need to be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation. Complaints about discrimination or human rights violations should be referred to the appropriate state agency.
|Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities|
|21 Grant Street, Hartford, CT 06106|
|Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination|
|One Ashburton Pl., 6th Floor, Room 601, Boston, MA 02108|
|Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights|
|180 Westminster St., 3rd Floor, Providence, RI 02903|
|Maine Human Rights Commission|
|#51 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333|
|New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights|
|2 Chenell Dr., Concord, NH 03301|
|Vermont Human Rights Commission|
|Vermont Human Rights Commission|
Q: Can the Commission hear a complaint about unfair financial aid awards?
No. To file a complaint about how an institution administers federal financial aid, contact the New England Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Education at 617-289-0133. To resolve a problem with an existing student loan, you can find assistance at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/disputes/prepare/contact-ombudsman.
Q: Can I simply send the Commission a copy of a complaint I originally sent to the institution or to another agency?
No. Documents intended primarily for other audiences cannot provide sufficient information to help the Commission determine whether it can proceed with your complaint. Because the complaint policy addresses only potential violations of the Standards for Accreditation, the Commission does not respond to or take action on correspondence directed to another body.
Q: Can I file a complaint anonymously?
No. Anonymous complaints are difficult for the Commission to process even when they appear to raise relevant accrediting issues. The Commission has no way to ask for additional information from the complainant or to engage in other follow-up. Therefore, the Commission does not accept anonymous complaints.
Q: How does the Commission respond to complaints?
The Commission has the discretion to determine whether or not a complaint meets its criteria for consideration. If the complaint meets the criteria, it is forwarded to the institution’s chief executive officer, who has 30 days to respond. The Commission reviews the complaint and the institutional response at its next regularly scheduled meeting. (The Commission holds four regular business meetings each year, generally in September, November, March, and April.)
In many cases, the institution can provide the Commission with adequate assurances that it has appropriate policies in place and has acted in accordance with those policies, or that it has recognized a problem and initiated corrective action. In such cases, no further action is warranted.
If the facts of the complaint and the institution’s response raise significant concerns regarding the institution’s current compliance with the Standards for Accreditation, the Commission determines the appropriate steps to take, depending on the circumstances and in keeping with the Commission’s policy on Periodic Review of Accredited Institutions. The institution and the complainant are notified by letter of the Commission’s decision.