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Higher Education Coordination Commission

Student Complaints

If you have a complaint about an Oregon educational institution, the information on this page will help you learn about courses of action. Many complaints can be resolved directly by your school. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) can also investigate and resolve some types of complaints, as explained below. For concerns that the HECC cannot consider, there may be other resources that can help you.

What Kinds of Complaints Can the HECC Address?

The HECC can accept complaints from students in Oregon-based "postsecondary" schools, which means schools teaching above the high school level. In general, this means degree-granting schools (colleges and universities) that are considered to be operating within Oregon or private career schools licensed by Oregon to operate in the state.

Students come to the HECC with a range of concerns: everything from matters involving grade disputes to parking to disagreements involving fees to other matters. The HECC, however, can only accept and resolve complaints involving matters where its authority is designated by statute and administrative rule. The HECC will refer students with other types of complaints back their school, to the U.S. Department of Education or to other authorities as appropriate.

The HECC accepts, investigates, and resolves complaints in the following areas.
  • For most Oregon schools or schools authorized to offer degrees within Oregon: Allegations of discrimination and retaliation (discrimination as defined by Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 659.850, and retaliation as defined by ORS 659.852).
  • For Oregon-licensed private career schools: Alleged violations of HECC-enforced administrative rules that apply to HECC-licensed private career schools  (as defined by ORS 345.120 and ORS 345.240).
  • For online degree programs offered within Oregon: HECC can assist Oregon students who attend online institutions in filing complaints or having their complaints referred to the proper authority outside Oregon. Similarly the HECC can receive complaints from students residing outside Oregon for some online schools that operate from within Oregon. Please write to
  • Complaints related to the state’s administration of financial aid programs (See ORS 350.075(4)(a)(C)).

How to Initiate a HECC Complaint

  1. The first course of action for students with a concern about their school is to make a good faith effort to resolve their concern directly with their school using the school’s own complaint process. If informal attempts are not successful, there is usually a formal process involving a written complaint and a written resolution. Students should exhaust this process, including any appeals.

    1. To learn more about the formal complaint process at a school, students can find more information on the school’s website, in its academic catalog, or in its student handbook. Degree-granting colleges and universities typically have offices and/or dedicated staff with specific responsibilities related to civil rights. Students may contact these offices or staff members if they feel they have experienced discrimination or harassment (those are the types of complaints HECC can receive and resolve).
  2. A student who has completed this process but is not happy with the outcome or who has a reason to avoid the school’s process can also contact the HECC to inquire about the agency’s own complaint process. Before submitting any documentation of a complaint to the HECC, we recommend that you contact a complaint specialist (see contacts below) to learn more about the types of complaints the HECC can address. For general questions, write to
    1. Type of ComplaintInitial Contact PersonContact Information
      Discrimination or retaliation at any degree-granting Oregon college or university, or alleged violation of PCS regulations at an Oregon-licensed private career schoolMatthew Altman


      Complaint regarding state financial aidKyra King


  3. The individuals noted will provide you with guidance on whether the HECC can receive your complaint and on how to submit a complaint. In general, once you have completed the school’s own complaint process, you can fill out the HECC’s complaint form and start the formal HECC complaint process.

Please note: The HECC’s complaint process provides another option in addition to other means of redress that are available. See additional resources at the bottom of this page. Using the HECC’s complaint process will not change any applicable deadlines that apply with other entities.

For a more detailed look at the authorities and complaint processes used at the HECC, please see the following administrative rules:


Additional Resources for Filing Complaints

For complaints alleging consumer protection violations, including, but not limited to, fraud and false advertising:

For more information about federal civil rights laws and discrimination in education:

For complaints involving Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Higher Education Act, or other discrimination, the HECC can consider discrimination-related complaints from students. Students can also file civil rights related complaints with the following:

For complaints regarding accreditation standards and other quality of education concerns:

For complaints involving alleged violations of Oregon ethics laws:

For complaints regarding grants from federal government sources:

  • Please contact the funding agency that oversees the grant.