SARA Compliance, Disclosure & Dispute Resolution
UMass Boston is approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA). SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. States apply to their relevant regional education compact for membership in SARA, and they agree to deal with the distance education offerings of out-of-state SARA-participating institutions in accord with SARA’s national policies, rather than applying the state-specific policies they used prior to joining SARA – policies they still apply to out-of-state institutions that do not participate in SARA.
UMass Boston programs are designed to meet the license requirements in Massachusetts. At this time, UMass Boston cannot confirm whether our professional licensure programs below meet requirements for licensure outside of Massachusetts. Out-of-state students should contact their state licensing board to ensure our program meets their requirements before enrolling. To learn more, view our licensure programs:
- Accelerated Nursing, BS
- Adult/Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Certificate
- Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate
- Counseling, MEd
- Mental Health Counseling, MS
- Rehabilitation Counseling, MS
- Vision Studies, MEd
The University of Massachusetts Boston endeavors to address student concerns and issues in a fair and professional manner. We understand that during the academic year, issues may arise that an online student may want to address. The following list describes different types of concerns and associated resources.
- Refund requests: The University of Massachusetts Boston maintains a webpage which details the university’s refund policy for online courses. Any student wishing to file a formal refund request should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Grade appeals: Students who have questions about their grades should discuss the matter first with their course instructor. In some circumstances, students may opt to file a formal grade appeal. The process for pursuing a grade appeal is described on the Grade Submission Policy FAQ page of the UMass Boston Registrar’s Office.
- (Undergraduate) Withdrawal and (Graduate Student) Leave of Absence from the University: Undergraduate students who wish to withdraw from the university must complete and submit the undergraduate Withdrawal Form. Graduate students seeking to arrange a leave of absence must complete and submit Leave of Absence Request form.
- Student Conduct & Dispute Resolution: UMass Boston’s Dean of Students handles complaints for violations of the Student Code of Conduct or other laws and regulations. Students are advised also to reference the webpage describing the Instructional Setting Conduct Policy. The Dean of Students maintains a web page providing information about and access to Reporting/Complaint Forms.
- Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Outreach: The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) deals with equal opportunity and sexual assault/harassment complaints, and provides the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Complaint Form “used to report information necessary to initiate an investigation of alleged discrimination, harassment, sexual or gender-harassment, domestic or dating violence, stalking or retaliation pursuant to university polices such as the Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Sexual Harassment Policy, and/or the Student Code of Conduct.” Reports specifically related to issues of accessibility should be filed with ODEI using the ADA/Section 504 Grievance Form.
- UMass Boston Student Rights & Responsibilities: The rights and responsibilities of UMass Boston students, including students’ rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) are described at the Registrar’s webpage on Rights as a Student and FERPA Guidelines for Staff. Separate webpages maintained by the office of Life on Campus describe Academic Policies and Rights and Community Standards and Rights.
Students with concerns that do not fall within any of the previously described categories should submit a written complaint to email@example.com. Your concern will be forwarded to the appropriate department and you will be notified via email that the issue is being reviewed.
Appealing the University’s Resolution Processes
The University of Massachusetts Boston has been authorized to participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) system. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), as the acting SARA portal entity for Massachusetts, does review and evaluate student complaints regarding online/distance learning programs offered by institutions based in Massachusetts that are SARA members. Note: Complaints about student grades and student conduct violations are specifically excluded from SARA review. Furthermore, students are required to first attempt to resolve their complaint according to the University of Massachusetts Boston’s internal complaint and dispute resolution processes, outlined above.
After the conclusion of the University’s resolution processes outlined above, students enrolled in online programs and/or courses may appeal the University’s decision to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, which provides complaint forms of two varieties, one for use by online students located in Massachusetts or other non-SARA states and territories (e.g. California or Guam), (Consumer Complaints), and another for online students located in SARA member states and territories outside Massachusetts (SARA Complaints).
Students who reside outside Massachusetts who wish to lodge a complaint with the MA DHE regarding online study originating from UMass Boston should use the appropriate form below based on the student’s location.
For Massachusetts Residents and Online Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories
If you have a complaint or concern that has not been resolved by UMass Boston, you may file a consumer complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) by using the general complaint form. The DHE general complaint form should be used by students who are located in:
- Non-SARA Member States or Territories (e.g., California, Guam, etc.)
For Online Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories
After the student has exhausted the complaint procedures made available by UMass Boston, if the student’s complaint has not been resolved, they may file a complaint with the DHE by using the SARA complaint form. The DHE SARA complaint form should be used by students who are located in SARA member states and territories. This includes all students who are located in SARA member states and territories for the purposes of completing out-of-state learning placements, such as internships, practica, clinical experiences, etc. in SARA member states and territories outside Massachusetts.
Additional information from the DHE’s SARA complaint website is below:
The SARA complaint process is as follows:
- Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by the SARA institution.
- After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with the MA-SARA institution, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via the URL below.
- The Department shall send a copy of the complaint to the institution that is the subject of the complaint.
- Within 30 days of the date that the Department sends a copy of the complaint to the institution, the institution must provide a written response to the student and the Department.
More information about DHE’s complaint processes can be found here.