State authorization for an institution must include a process where the State reviews and appropriately acts on complaints arising under State laws, including laws related to fraud or false advertising. A State can fulfill this role through a State agency or the State Attorney General’s office, so long as the entity has a process in place to review, investigate, and resolve complaints for the institution that is operating in the State. States may also have different complaint processes for different types of institutions. If an institution cannot identify a State complaint process that meets the requirements in 34 CFR 600.9, the Department would not consider the institution to be legally authorized by the State.


The State is responsible for responding to complaints about institutions in the State regardless of what body or entity actually manages the complaints. Thus, while a State may refer the review of complaints concerning an institution to another entity, the final authority to resolve the complaint timely is with the State.


An institution applying for recertification, or responding to an inquiry from the Department, will need to identify the State complaint process that students may use. The contact information for the State approval or licensing entities, and for the State complaint process, must be made available to any enrolled or prospective student (See 34 CFR 668.43(b)).


For clarification and guidance on this requirement, see Dear Colleague Letter GEN-14-04 at the following link:


Other guidance relating to these regulatory requirements has been published in Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) GEN 11-05, DCL GEN 12-13, and DCL GEN 13-20.

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