Policy Title: Student Complaint Resolution

Responsible Office: Academic Affairs
Policy Officer: Chief Academic Officer
|Faculty |Staff |Student |Public

Approved By: President's Council

Approved Date: 1/12/2017

Effective Date: 7/14/2020

Category: Academics


This policy is established to provide an appropriate framework to resolve student complaints, to maintain the integrity of the academic environment, and to ensure the rights of students in such matters are clearly ensured and protected.

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Saint Francis University participates in Federal student aid programs that are authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. A participating institution must be legally authorized to operate with the State in which it is located. Title 34 CFR 600.9 requires States to have a "process to review and appropriately act on complaints concerning the institution including enforcing applicable State laws." Title 34 CFR 668.43(b) obligates the University to "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."

Saint Francis University is committed to creating a positive environment for all students. This policy is established to provide an appropriate framework to resolve student complaints, to maintain the integrity of the academic environment, and to ensure the rights of students in such matters are clearly ensured and protected.


This policy applies to all prospective and enrolled students at the University.

"Prospective student" means an individual who has contacted the University requesting information concerning admission to the University.
"Student" means an individual enrolled at the University in a course offered for credit.
"Student complaint' is defined as a formal complaint of alleged violations of University policy or procedure including but not limited to academic and administrative actions.


Saint Francis University makes every effort to resolve student complaints internally using policies and procedures outlined in the University Catalog or Student Handbook. The institutional complaint process for distance learning students is the same for all students regardless of physical location. It is expected that students will fully utilize any and all such administrative procedures to address concerns and/or complaints in as timely a manner as possible. For procedures regarding:

While certain types of complaints (e.g., grade appeals) are unable to be resolved if submitted anonymously, anonymous complaint submission is available through EthicsPoint. EthicsPoint is an institution-wide reporting tool that is comprehensive in scope. Categories for anonymous reporting include: Academic Affairs, Accounting and Financial, Athletics, Human Resources, Information Technology, Medical, Research, Risk and Safety Matters, and Sexual Discrimination, Harassment, or Misconduct (Title IX).

If a resolution cannot be reached following the University's Student Complaint Resolution process:  

  • Students located in Pennsylvania:  In the unlikely event that an issue cannot be resolved through the institutional complaint process, students located in Pennsylvania may contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the applicable agency for oversight in resolving complaints.
  • Students located outside of Pennsylvania:  Saint Francis University is approved to participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) which regulates the manner in which participating institutions may offer distance learning education to students located in other States. If a student has a complaint that involves distance learning education offered under the terms and conditions of SARA, the student must file a complaint with the institution first to seek resolution. Complaints regarding student grades or student conduct violations are governed entirely by institutional policy and the laws of the SARA institution's home State. If a person bringing a complaint is not satisfied with the outcome of the University's internal process for resolving complaints, the complaint (except for complaints about grades or student conduct violations) may be appealed, within two years of the incident about which the complaint is made, to the University's SARA portal entity (Pennsylvania Department of Education). For purposes of this process, a complaint shall be defined as a formal assertion in writing that the terms of this agreement, or of laws, standards or regulations incorporated by the SARA Policies and Standards have been violated by the institution operating under the terms of SARA.

Although the SARA State Portal Entity is the correct location for out-of-state students to file a complaint, Saint Francis University provides the list of all state contacts for filing complaints should the student wish to inquire there.  

All U.S. States, except California, are SARA-member states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Visit the NC-SARA website for further information. Students located in non-SARA states or territories should consult the list of non-SARA State agencies for further instruction for filing a complaint in those states.  

Further information on SARA and the SARA complaint process: 

Unresolved complaints may be filed with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the University's regional accrediting agency, once all other avenues provided by the University and the State agency or SARA have been exhausted. The link above provides information on the Commission's complaint policies and procedures.
Middle States Commission on Higher Education
1007 North Orange Street
4th Floor, MB #166
Wilmington, DE 19801
Telephone: (267) 284-5000
E-mail: info@msche.org  Spanish: espanolinfo@msche.org
General Link: www.msche.org


Vice President for Academic Affairs: 11/28/2012
President's Council: 07/14/2020; 06/07/2023

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