The Board of Higher Education attempts to provide an avenue for the informal resolution of student complaints and concerns regarding institutions of higher education in Massachusetts.
To initiate a complaint about a Massachusetts college or university, a student must complete the complaint form.
After a student submits a complaint to the Board of Higher Education, the complaint is referred to the institution it concerns for explanation, response, and resolution, if possible. The institution generally has 30 days from its receipt of the complaint from the Board to provide a response to the student and the Board. If the forthcoming clarification and response do not satisfy the Board, the matter shall be referred to the Consumer Protection Division and/or the Public Charities Division of the Attorney General's Office.
An institution’s own Board of Trustees has the authority and responsibility to establish and enforce policies necessary for the management of the institution. The Board of Higher Education cannot require any institution to take any specific action in a matter and cannot provide students or other complainants with legal advice.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, including grades, judicial sanctions, financial records, and other personal information. In order for the Board of Higher Education to determine whether a student complaint has been responded to and/or resolved by an institution in a satisfactory way, all complainants must provide written consent for the institution disclose to the Board of Higher Education any relevant protected information, including FERPA information, from its student records.
Under most circumstances, the text of the complaint/inquiry and the institution’s response will be considered public records, copies of which must be made available to any member of the public upon request. However, personally identifying information (e.g., name, address, phone number, etc.) will not be disclosed. Furthermore, no part of the complaint/inquiry or the institution’s response will be provided in response to a request that asks specifically for a complaint/inquiry submitted by an individual.