Written Student Complaints
The University of South Carolina Aiken is committed to providing students with outstanding academic and co-curricular programs. USCA shows this commitment through encouraging high levels of student achievement, providing outstanding support services, complying with local, state, and federal laws, and our own policies and procedures.
USCA has designated faculty and staff to help maintain this commitment across campus and to provide appropriate responses to our students’ complaints and concerns. By selecting a category below, you can access specific reporting tools, which will bring your complaint or concern to the appropriate individual(s) or office(s) for resolution.
These reporting resources are not intended to replace normal “chain of command” communications and students must first approach appropriate administrators, faculty, and staff regarding their concern before submitting a formal written complaint. Except for cases involving discrimination, harassment or retaliation, students are required to attempt resolution of the issue informally before they may submit a Written Student Complaint. For complaints about course grades, students must first seek resolution with the instructor who issued the grade for the course at issue. For all other complaints, students should first seek resolution of the dispute with the person about whom the student is complaining or his/her supervisor.
Informal resolution is not required for cases involving discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. The University of South Carolina Aiken encourages all members of our community to report incidents of discrimination or harassment to the USCA Title IX Co-Coordinators or through the Title IX incident report form. More information about reporting harassment and discrimination can be found on the University’s Title IX website.
If you are not able to resolve your concern through informal channels, USCA will address your written complaint in a fair, professional and timely manner and in accordance with established procedures. The procedures for written complaints are outlined below.
Guidelines for Filing a Student Complaint
In absence of mitigating circumstances, students must submit a complaint to the Commission within two calendar years of exhausting the appeals process at the institution.
Step 1: If a student has concerns related to classroom situations or administrative actions, he/she should contact the faculty or staff member(s) with whom he/she has a conflict. It may be possible to resolve the concerns without the need for formal institutional action. However, if the student’s complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, or if the complaint cannot be resolved by contacting the faculty or staff member(s), the student should proceed to Step 2.
Step 2: The student should file a written complaint through the University of South Carolina Aiken’s grievance procedure. Information about the process can be found in the USCA student handbook, and the written complaint form can be found here. If the student is still unable to resolve the complaint through the University’s procedures, the student should proceed to Step 3.
Step 3: Investigate to where assistance may be available from other entities:
|Program Type||Available Resource|
Students enrolled in nursing licensure programs should contact the SC Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, Board of Nursing.
Students enrolled in distance learning programs should contact the state authorization agency in the home state of the institution. Each institution includes state authorization information on its website.
If a student believes that an institution has acted in a discriminatory manner, he or she may wish to contact the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission or the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
If a student believes that an institution has not complied with the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, contact the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.
SC Financial Aid
If a student has been denied South Carolina state-based financial aid, he or she may file an appeal with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, Division of Student Affairs.
Federal Financial Aid
For student issues related to federal financial aid, contact the Ombudsman Group of the U.S. Department of Education for disputes related to Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, Guaranteed Student Loans, and Perkins Loans.
The Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is charged with investigating and detecting fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, misconduct, or violations of state or federal law, and wrongdoing in the Executive Branch. OIG only has investigative authority over the Executive Branch of South Carolina State Government, which includes state-supported colleges and universities.
Step 4: If the complaint cannot be resolved through the above channels, the student may file a complaint with the Commission. Complete and submit the Commission’s complaint form.
Commission Procedures for Reviewing a Student Complaint
- After receiving a complaint, Commission staff will review the submitted materials, and contact the complainant for any required additional information or clarifications.
- The Commission staff will then send a copy of the complaint to the institution against which the complaint has been filed and request a response, due within 30 calendar days.
- After receiving the response, Commission staff will determine whether the institution’s complaint process has been followed and exhausted and what additional steps or follow-up may be taken. The Commission may outsource the investigation to another government agency.
- If it is concluded that the allegations do not establish a violation of standards or any serious deviation of educational standards imposed by the Commission, a letter is sent to the complainant confirming this, along with a copy of the institution’s response.
- If it appears that a standard has been violated or that the institution has not complied with the institution’s established policies, staff will attempt a settlement through mediation.
- If there is evidence that the institution may no longer be maintaining minimum standards, an investigation may be made to determine other actions.
- Results of the investigation are sent to both the complainant and institution.
Mail the complaint and required documentation to:SC Commission on Higher Education Academic Affairs Attn: Student Complaint 1122 Lady Street, Suite 300 Columbia, SC 29201
If all of the above steps have been followed and your complaint is still not resolved, you have the option to submit a complaint to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges using their complaint policy and complaint form (located in their policy documents).
Procedures for Written Complaints
The following provides guidance and information on the written complaint process for students.
A Written Student Complaint is any complaint which:
- Is submitted electronically through add web site address here;
- Is submitted by a student who attends the University of South Carolina Aiken
- Is submitted in accordance with any of the linked processes on this website
- Documents the student’s concern that the University has either violated the student’s rights under federal, state or local law or has misapplied or misinterpreted any University policy, regulation or rule
- Is submitted before the expiration of any applicable deadlines
Written Student Complaints may be academic or non-academic in nature. The person asserting the complaint must be the alleged recipient of the unfair treatment; written student complaints may not be asserted on behalf of another person.
The following information should be included in your Written Student Complaint:
- Your name and contact information
- Confirmation that you are a student of the University of South Carolina Aiken
- The name of the person and/or University unit about which you are complaining
- The date of the incident
- The nature of your complaint (e.g., academic or non-academic complaint, FERPA complaint)
- A concise summary of your complaint
- The solution you are seeking for your complaint
- A certification that you have attempted to resolve the complaint through an informal resolution with the person about whom you are complaining, or if appropriate, his/her supervisor
- The federal, state, local law or USC Aiken policy, regulation or rule you are asserting that the person/department violated
- Any relevant documents supporting your complaint
If you would like to submit a written student complaint/grievance, please choose the category below which best describes your complaint/grievance and follow the referenced procedures.
Use the Written Student Complaint Form to appeal a final course grade and/or submit a complaint/grievance about any course or academic matter. The procedures for resolving academic complaints/grievances are contained in the USCA Student Handbook.
Complaints Regarding Discrimination or Harassment
Use the USCA Incident Report to report concerns regarding discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual harassment, sexual violence, interpersonal violence including domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and concerns related to pregnancy discrimination.
Students who believe their rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy, may use the Written Student Complaint Form to submit a complaint.
Use the Written Student Complaint Form to submit a complaint about any consumer protection issues arising under the State Authorization and Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). South Carolina participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education serves as the state’s portal agency for SARA and is the final authority for SARA-related complaints. If an out-of-state student enrolled in an SC institution via distance education wishes to file a complaint, he or she may complete and submit the Commission’s complaint form.
Appeals of Student Conduct Findings and Sanctions
The procedure for appealing findings or sanctions stemming from a student conduct matter can be found in the USCA Student Handbook.
Non-Academic or Other Miscellaneous Complaints
For complaints that do not fall into the above-listed categories, the following procedure, should be followed:
- First, please attempt to resolve the matter directly with the person against whom the complaint is directed or that person’s direct supervisor
- If a resolution is not reached, please submit a Written Student Complaint Form