In accordance with federal and state regulations, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) provides the following information for students wishing to file a formal complaint about a condition or incident involving a postsecondary school operating in Virginia.
The vast majority of complaints – a concern that a policy or procedure of the institution has been incorrectly or unfairly applied in one’s particular case – should be resolved with the school itself. Postsecondary institutions participating in federal student financial aid programs are required to maintain formal grievance procedures. Federal regulation requires the Commonwealth to designate an agency to respond to grievances from students attending institutions located in the Virginia regardless of delivery format (on-line, face-to-face, hybrid); credential awarded (degree, certificate, diploma); or institutional type (public, private, for-profit, non-profit). Virginia Code also requires private schools certified to operate by SCHEV to have formal complaint procedures for students. The school’s student handbook usually describes the steps students must take to begin a grievance process. SCHEV will not investigate a complaint unless the student has exhausted all available grievance procedures outlined by the institution.
When approaching the institution with a concern or complaint, students should provide detailed information about the nature of the complaint, including dates, times, and full names of all involved, as well as the policy or procedure violated (if known). Students may be asked to include supporting material that substantiates their complaint.
If a student has exhausted the avenues provided by the institution and the complaint has not been resolved internally, the student can submit a “Student Complaint Form” to SCHEV. Upon receiving a completed form, SCHEV will open an investigation if the matter being disputed falls within its authority. If preliminary findings indicate a violation of SCHEV regulations by the institution, SCHEV shall attempt to resolve the complaint through mediation. All parties will be notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation.
Please note that SCHEV has no authority or role regarding issues of employment law, claims of discrimination, or instances of suspected consumer fraud. Such complaints should be directed to the appropriate state or federal agency.
Click here for detailed information about SCHEV’s formal student complaint procedure or to file a written “Student Complaint Form” with the agency.