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Complaint Process

Complaint Process for SARA Institutions

The District of Columbia became a member of SARA on June 9, 2016 through the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) compact. The District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) Higher Education Licensure Commission (HELC) has been designated the portal agency for SARA – the entity responsible for coordinating SARA activities in District of Columbia. (

Those students who may have exhausted the American University’s grievance process without a satisfactory outcome may file a complaint with the Higher Education Licensure Commission.

The HELC does not however mitigate grade complaints or financial disputes.

HELC contact information:
Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Higher Education Licensure Commission 810 First St. NE, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20002 

Read more about HELC’s complaint process

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education Complaint Process

The Commission receives complaints about substantive matters that are related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. All such complaints are judged against the Commission's standards in Characteristics of Excellence.

Complaints must be submitted using the Commission's official complaint form. The form must be completed in its entirety, signed, and submitted along with compelling, written evidence. However, the Commission investigates complaints only when the complainant has exhausted all of the institution's appeal procedures. For more information, see the document, How to File a Complaint with the Commission.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education will address concerns that are clearly related to an accreditation action taken by the Commission. However, the Commission is not a judicial or quasi-judicial body, and therefore cannot settle disputes between individuals and institutions, whether these involve students, faculty, administration, or members of other groups. Examples of these would be a student's complaint about a grade received from a faculty member or a faculty member's complaint about his or her hiring or continued employment.