State Authorization and Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) Student Complaint and Grievance Process
Initial responsibility for the investigation and resolution of complaints resides with the institution against which the complaint is made. Further consideration and resolution, if necessary, is the responsibility of the SARA Portal Entity, and other responsible agencies of the institution’s home state. Examples of consumer protection complaints for SARA purposes include, but are not limited to:
- Veracity of recruitment and marketing materials;
- Accuracy of job placement data;
- Accuracy of information about tuition, fees and financial aid;
- Complete and accurate admission requirements for courses and programs;
- Accuracy of information about the institution’s accreditation and/or any programmatic/specialized accreditation held by the institution’s programs;
- Accuracy of information about whether course work meets any relevant professional licensing requirements or the requirements of specialized accrediting bodies;
- Accuracy of information about whether the institution’s course work will transfer to other institutions; and
- Operation of distance education programs consistent with practices expected by institutional accreditors (and, if applicable, programmatic/specialized accreditors) and/or the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C‐RAC) Guidelines for distance education.
Student complaints, including claims that their rights under law or university policy have been violated, may be resolved by a two-step process.
Step 1 – All Students:
- The initial responsibility for resolving the complaint resides with the institution. Your first step as a student, regardless of residency, is to follow NC State University Student Grievance procedures as outlined for undergraduate or graduate status. Non-Degree Studies (NDS) students taking or intending to take undergraduate-level courses (numbered 100-400) should follow the procedure for undergraduate students, while NDS students taking or intending to take graduate-level courses (numbered 500-800) should follow the procedure for graduate students. Complaints must be submitted in writing (email is acceptable), but there is no specific form to complete.
For questions about the student complaint and grievance process for Online and Distance Education courses or programs at NC State University, please contact the Associate Vice Provost for Online and Distance Education, Dr. Tim Petty by mail (Campus Box 7113, NC State University, NC 27695), email (email@example.com), or phone (919.515.2393).
Step 2 – Your Residency Determines Your Next Step:
- Most Out-of-State Students: If your complaint is not resolved at the institutional level (Step 1), then out-of-state students residing in NC-SARA (National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) states, which includes all states except California, may submit complaints to SARA-North Carolina. SARA-North Carolina operates under NCSEAA (North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority). Access the Complaint Form at SARA-North Carolina Student Complaint Process web page.
Contact Information for NCSEAA c/o SARA North Carolina:
P.O. Box 14103
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Toll free: 855.SARA.1.NC (727.2162)
Local: 919.549.8614, ext. 4667
- North Carolina Residents: If your complaint is not resolved at the institutional level (Step 1), then you may refer your complaint to the North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaint Process of the Licensure Division of the University of North Carolina System Office. The policy is at Student Complaint Policy (PDF); the complaint form is at Student Complaint Form (PDF).
Contact Information for North Carolina Post Secondary Education Complaints:
North Carolina Post Secondary Education Complaints
c/o Student Complaints
University of North Carolina System Office
910 Raleigh Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2688
Additional Resources for Student Complaints
- Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice. To file a complaint with this agency, visit the State Attorney General’s web page. North Carolina residents may call 877.566.7226; outside of North Carolina, please call 919.716.6000.
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC expects individuals to attempt to resolve the complaint through all means available to the complainant, including the institution’s grievance procedures, before submitting a complaint to SACSCOC. Complete information about the SACSCOC process is at SACSCOC Procedures Complaint (PDF) (the complaint form is on the last two pages).
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
- State Portal Entity Contacts. NC-SARA provides a complete list of relevant agencies with contact information for each NC-SARA state.
National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity
3005 Center Green Drive, Suite 130
Boulder, Colorado 80301