State Authorization and Student Complaints about Delivery of Distance Education

Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act includes regulations regarding the delivery of distance education to out-of-state residents. The United States Department of Education (USDOE) requires that institutions comply with any applicable state approval or licensure requirements in each state to which distance education instruction is delivered.

Students have the right to file a complaint against an institution when these requirements are not followed or regarding the loss of tuition and fees as a result of unfair business practices. Institutions must provide both current and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accrediting body and the appropriate state agency for handling complaints in a student’s resident state.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees and certificates.

If you have a complaint about UNC-Chapel Hill distance education programs and the issue could not be resolved internally, the following options are available to you:

North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints

If a complaint cannot be resolved through the institution’s complaint process, students may file a complaint with the North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints unit. Please review the NC Post-Secondary Complaint Policy  print and complete the NC Post-Secondary Complaint Form (PDF) and submit the complaint to:

North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints
c/o Student Complaints
University of North Carolina General Administration
910 Raleigh Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2688
Telephone: (919) 962-4550

SACSCOC Student Complaint Process

If for some reason the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved, the next step would be to file a complaint with UNC-Chapel Hill’s accrediting agency. UNC-Chapel Hill is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commision on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Students who file a complaint with the accrediting agency should follow the SACSCOC Complaint Procedure. The contact information for SACS is:

1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
Telephone: 404-679-4500

In most cases, these complaint procedures require the student to exhaust all complaint avenues internal to the institution before a complaint can be filed at the state or accrediting agency level. UNC-Chapel Hill students are advised to first attempt to resolve complaints with UNC-Chapel Hill administration.

SARA-NC Complaint Process

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). Complaints from students in other SARA states should be filed with the North Carolina SARA Portal Agency NOT in the student’s state of residence. The Portal Agency’s website is located here. As with the normal complaint process, students should attempt to resolve the issue internally before engaging the Portal Agency. The portal agency’s complaint process can be found here. The SARA-NC Complaint Form can be found here.  Updates on UNC-Chapel Hill’s membership in SARA can be found here.

SARA-NC Contact Information

SARA North Carolina

NC State Education Assistance Agency
PO Box 14103
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Telephone: 855-727-2162 and Email:

Professional Licensure

If you are considering a program at UNC-Chapel Hill that leads to licensure or certification and you do not live in North Carolina, please contact the respective licensing board in the state where you reside before beginning the program. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the licensing board in the state in which they reside or intend to practice.

Student Complaint Information by State and Agency

Directory of State Authorization and Lead Contacts