Student Handbook

Policies, Procedures and Guidelines

Student Complaint Requirements for Online Learning

Notice for Distance Learning Students: State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement
Smith College is in the process of applying to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA). SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. As a SARA-approved institution, Smith College will be authorized to offer online courses in each state that is part of the agreement without having to get approval from each state individually.

Smith College out-of-state distance learning students residing in a SARA state may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education or with a state agency in the state in which they reside. Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by Smith College. After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with Smith College, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via the URL below.

For Online Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories
After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by Smith College, located at smith.edu/academic-grievances, if your complaint has not been resolved, you may file a complaint with the DHE by using the SARA complaint form. The DHE SARA complaint form should be used by students who are located in SARA member states and territories. This includes all students who are located in SARA member states and territories for the purposes of completing out-of-state learning placements, such as internships, practica, clinical experiences, etc. in SARA member states and territories outside Massachusetts.

For Online Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories
After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by Smith College, located at smith.edu/academic-grievances, if your complaint has not been resolved, you may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) by using the general complaint form. The DHE general complaint form should be used by students who are located in:

  • Non-SARA Member States or Territories (e.g., California, Guam, etc.)

Additional Information
More information about DHE's complaint processes can be found here.

Additional information from the DHE's SARA complaint website is below:

The SARA complaint process is as follows:

  1. Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by the SARA institution.
  2. After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with the MA-SARA institution, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via this website: https://www.mass.edu/foradmin/sara/complaints.asp
  3. The Department shall send a copy of the complaint to the institution that is the subject of the complaint;
  4. Within 30 days of the date that the Department sends a copy of the complaint to the institution, the institution must provide a written response to the student and the Department.