Student Complaints and Notifications

Student Complaints

 § 34 CFR 668.43 (b) Institutional Information is a federal regulation which requires institutions to provide prospective and enrolled students the institution's accreditation information and contact information for filing complaints:

§ 668.43 (b) Institutional Information:  The institution must make available for review to any enrolled or prospective student upon request, a copy of the documents describing the institution's accreditation and its State, Federal, or tribal approval or licensing. The institution must also provide its students or prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accreditor and with its State approval or licensing entity and any other relevant State official or agency that would appropriately handle a student's complaint.

For more information about the student complaint expectations, see our blog posts:

Federal Student Complaint Regulation - Clarifying Misconceptions (July 19, 2011)

Further Clarification about Federal Complaint Process. (August 10, 2011)

Federal Student Complaint Requirements – Is Your Institution in Compliance Today? (August 15, 2017)


Student Complaint Information by State and Agency 

  • Please note the date stamp.
  • This contact list should be used for reference only.
  • Institutions are responsible for the accuracy of the contacts they provide in their notifications.

SARA Portal Entity Contacts

Suggestions for implementation of the complaint process notification:

  • Determine your institution's best communication avenues/locations (i.e. website etc.) so that information is easily accessible for all prospective and enrolled students.
  • Write a clear and "student friendly" description of the institution's complaint process and under what circumstances a student may seek additional recourse outside of the institution.
  • If this notice is used in multiple locations, use the exact same notice to eliminate the possibility of ambiguity or conflicting language
  • Provide the contact information for filing a compliant with your institution's accrediting agency.
  • If your institution is a SARA institution, indicate that students should file their complaints with the SARA State Portal Entity for the home state of your institution, unless the student is located in California or Massachusetts. If the student is located in California or Massachusetts, indicate the location for complaints in those states as provided in the list of state contacts (*note that these are the remaining states that are non-SARA and you should update as that status may change).
    • Provide the contact information for filing complaints with the specific SARA State Portal Entity for the home state of your institution. (The SARA complaint process is described below)
    • Although the SARA State Portal Entity is the correct location for the student to file a complaint, it may be best practices to provide the contact information for all state contacts for filing complaints should the student wish to inquire there.
  • If your institutions is NOT a SARA institution, indicate that the student may choose to file a complaint with his or her state of residence and provide the list of state contacts.
  • Please note these caveats when providing the state contacts for the state agencies for filing complaints in the states your institution offers activity:
    • We do not suggest linking to the SHEEO list as it has not been updated.
    • The state contacts list we provide here is date stamped and may be used for reference. Please remember that the contacts you provide should be reviewed on a periodic basis to guarantee that they are current.
    • Currently there is no agency for complaints in California for public or non-profit out-of-state institutions. SAN will continue to pursue an answer.
  • Periodically review your notification and contact lists to ensure that they are up to date and that the language is clear.

NOTE: This information is not endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. Information and advice provided on these pages is not guaranteed. Given the myriad of regulations and understandings about their meaning, these pages represent our best interpretation of what we have learned. If you see information that appears to be incorrect, we invite you to notify us.

Compiled by:

Russ PoulinRussell Poulin
Director, Policy and Analysis
WCET - WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies
Phone: (303) 541-0305  


Marianne BoekeMarianne Boeke
Senior Research Associate, NCHEMS
Phone: (303) 497-0357