State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

Out-of-State Distance Education Students – SARA Policy Grievance Procedures

As a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), Palo Alto College provides a grievance process for students who are residing in NC-SARA states. All students have a right to file a complaint against the college if the college is in violation of federal or NC-SARA policies. Currently, with the exception of California, all states are members of NC-SARA, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  See the current list of members:

NC-SARA Directory

What complaints fall into this category?

Complaints resulting from distance education courses, activities, and operations provided by SARA-participating institutions, such as Palo Alto College, to students who are residing in other SARA states come under the coverage of SARA.

Examples of issues that may arise in regard to alleged fraudulent activity, violations of SARA policies or more general complaints about improper activities include, but are not limited to complaints regarding:

  1. Veracity of recruitment and marketing materials;
  2. Accuracy of job placement data;
  3. Accuracy of information about tuition, fees and financial aid;
  4. Completeness and accuracy of admission requirements for courses and programs;
  5. Accuracy of information about the institution’s accreditation and/or any programmatic/specialized accreditation held by the institution’s programs;
  6. Accuracy of information about whether course work meets any relevant Professional Licensing requirements or the requirements of specialized Accrediting Agencies;
  7. Accuracy of information about whether the institution’s course work will transfer to other institutions; and
  8. Operation of the distance education programs their consistency with practices expected by institutional accreditors (and, if applicable, programmatic/specialized accreditors) and/or the C-RAC Guidelines for distance education.

*Taken from the SARA Policy Manual pp 41-42 

What complaints do not fall into this category and are not addressed by SARA policy?
  1. Complaints regarding student grades or conduct violations, which are resolved by the college. Go to Student Grievances
  2. Complaints about fraud or criminal activity, which may go to any state Attorney General or the Office of Inspector General or complaint unit of the Department of Education
Step-by-Step Grievance Process – for out-of-state students in online classes

Step One: The grievance process begins at the college.

Students residing outside of Texas while attending Palo Alto College who desire to resolve a grievance should first follow the college's non-academic grievance procedure found here:

Student Grievances

Step Two: If the grievance is not resolved through the college process, the student may reach out to the Texas Higher Education Board (THECB) for resolution. The THECB will respond only after the complaint process at the college has been exhausted.

Complaints regarding any Texas degree-granting postsecondary institutions participating in SARA are filed with the THECB by completing their Student Complaint Form and emailing the form to

Inquiries regarding SARA policies and procedures should be directed to Jessica Acton, THECB Program Director:

State Portal Entity Contact
Jessica Acton
Program Director, Academic Quality and Workforce

Additional information about this grievance process may be found on the NC-SARA website.

Student complaint information is also available through individual state agencies. Contacts for those agencies, current as of October 2020, are provided here.

Contact Information

Amanda Harrison 
Director of the Teaching & Learning Center