SARA and students

If a student has a complaint about an institution operating under SARA, does the complaint go directly to SARA?

No, complaints go first through the institution’s standard procedure for resolution of student grievances. If a student is not satisfied with the outcome of the institutional process, the complaint may then be brought to the responsible state agency in the home state. Nothing precludes the state where the student is located from also working to help resolve the complaint. NCS 4(1).

NOTE: Although students may choose to work through their own state’s SARA office for complaint resolution, the SARA office of the state where the provider is located is responsible for staffing the investigation and complaint resolution as needed. Students may not use SARA to complain about distance education courses offered inside the home state, only those offered across state lines.

Can students appeal grades or student conduct penalties through SARA?

No, grade appeals and conduct complaints are expressly excluded by SARA. NCS 4(1)(d).

If a student signs an arbitration clause with an institution requiring that the student resolve complaints solely through that method, does that prevent a student from bringing a complaint to SARA?

No. SARA is not a party to any arbitration requirements. A student may bring to SARA any issue that potentially involves a violation of SARA standards or policies.