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Submit a Complaint to HLC About an Institution

Students, faculty, staff and members of the public may submit a complaint about an HLC-accredited or candidate institution. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in a 19-state region.

Complaint Process

The complaint process is designed to identify substantive problems with an institution’s ability to meet the Criteria for Accreditation. HLC’s policy on complaints provides a full description of the type of complaints that HLC will review.

The HLC complaint process:

  • Is deliberative and judgment-based.
  • Recognizes the value of information provided by the public.
  • Helps institutions gain awareness of systemic problems and improve.
  • Directs complainants to appropriate processes for grievances if the matter is not a substantive accreditation problem.

Complaints can be submitted using the form below. HLC’s process for reviewing and responding to a complaint is as follows:

  1. HLC will acknowledge a complaint within 30 working days of receipt.
  2. A complaint will be forwarded to an institution for a response only if HLC determines the complaint represents substantive problems with the institution’s ability to meet the Criteria.
  3. The institution has 30 days to respond to the complaint.
  4. HLC may take up to another 30 days to review an institutional response to a complaint.
  5. HLC will notify the complainant whether the matter has been closed or if additional actions will be required.

Complaints HLC Does Not Review

Since the complaint process is intended to pursue only those matters that suggest substantive noncompliance with the Criteria, HLC expects individuals who have a dispute to use the internal grievance procedures of the institution. HLC does not review the outcomes of institutional grievance processes to either uphold or overturn those decisions. In no case will HLC use the complaint process to provide a remedy with an institution on behalf of a complainant. HLC does not intervene in matters of an individual nature, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Obtaining transcripts
  • Financial aid
  • Tuition/bills
  • Satisfactory academic progress
  • Grade/instructor disputes
  • Disciplinary action
  • Employment disputes
  • Interpersonal situations

Additionally, HLC does not:

  • Accept complaints from third parties (The person submitting the complaint must be a party to the complaint.)
  • Provide whistleblower protections
  • Review criminal matters
  • Provide legal advice
  • Review matters older than five years

Anonymous complaints are discouraged. However, HLC will keep the complainant’s identifying information confidential if requested.

HLC reserves the right to reject any complaint that contains defamatory statements.

Additional Resources for Complainants

Complainants should contact their institution’s ombuds or similar office to pursue internal grievance processes if appropriate.

For discrimination matters, complainants should contact the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

For matters related to federal student loans or loan servicers, complainants should contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group.

Additionally, state higher education authorities will accept complaints for certain matters. Consumer complaints may be directed to state attorneys general. Complainants should contact law enforcement for criminal matters or an attorney for legal matters.



Submit a Complaint

Note: If you have a question about HLC’s complaint process, complete the inquiry form.

Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.


Contact Information


Please note: HLC will not share a complainant’s identifying information without his or her consent. (See Release of Information and FERPA Statement below.)

First name:*

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Last name:*

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Email address:*

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Phone number:*

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Street address:*

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City:*

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State:*

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ZIP code:*

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I am a(n):*







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Please select:




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Last date of attendance (mm/yyyy):

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Program of study:

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Degree program level:






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Last date of employment (mm/yyyy):

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Last date of employment (mm/yyyy):

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I was referred to HLC by:







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Complaint Details


Institution that is the subject of the complaint:*

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When did the matter of your complaint occur?*
Please note: HLC does not review matters that are older than five years.




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Have you attempted to file a complaint with the institution?*


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Please describe:

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Have you attempted to address your complaint outside of the institution?*


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Please describe:

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Please review the Criteria for Accreditation and identify which are applicable to your complaint. Note that HLC only reviews complaints regarding substantive issues with an institution’s ability to meet the Criteria.

Check all that apply:*





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Explain the reason and issues leading to your complaint, and describe the outcome you are expecting. Please provide relevant, clear and concise details related to what happened, when and where the issue(s) occurred, and who was involved. Note that HLC does not negotiate or provide specific remedies.*

This field is required. Maximum 500 words

Optional: Provide relevant and brief supporting documentation and evidence as a single PDF file. For example, if you refer to an institutional policy in your complaint, provide a copy of the policy. Helpful documentation might include letters or emails exchanged between you and the institution, learning agreements, portions of the catalog, etc.

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Release of Information and FERPA Statement


Review the following statement and select one of the options below:*

To comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), I agree to allow HLC to submit a copy of my complaint and supporting materials to the above named institution and/or other external parties for a response. I further authorize the institution to transmit records related to me or to the individual under my guardianship affected by the institution’s action to HLC for review. I understand that information may be shared electronically, orally or by mail. I also understand that if I have any questions concerning my legal rights or responsibilities, I should contact a private attorney.





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Acknowledgement of Complaints Policy and Process


I have read the HLC complaints policy and process (provided at the top of this page) and certify that my complaint follows this policy. I understand that HLC will not review matters older than five years, uphold or overturn institutional decisions, or provide legal advice. I certify that the information I have provided is complete, true and accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief.



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Related Policy

COMM.A.10.030
Complaints and Other Information Regarding Affiliated Institutions

Questions?

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