Student Complaint Process

Policy Regarding Informal and Formal Complaint Procedures

Informal Complaint Procedures

It is the wish of the University to provide an education and services of high quality to its students and to provide equity and harmony in the application of policies and procedures. When a student has a complaint which does not involve sexual violence or assault, the University would encourage resolution be sought through informal communication with the appropriate instructor, school dean, staff member, or administrative officer who may be able to help rectify or clarify the situation before a written complaint is initiated.

Formal Complaint Procedures

This Complaint Policy does not supersede specific policies involving special cases such as grade appeals, illegal discrimination, sexual violence or assault, sexual harassment, appeal and due process, etc.

Lodging a Formal Student Complaint: A student who wishes to lodge a formal complaint with the University must complete and submit the formal complaint form to the appropriate cabinet level officer. A form is available in the Office of Student Experience and Office of Academic Affairs, as well as online.

Administrative Complaint Acknowledgment: Formal student complaints will be forwarded to the administrator most immediately responsible for the area to which the complaint pertains. The administrator will send a written acknowledgment to the student within five working days of receiving the complaint indicating that: (1) the formal complaint form has been received, (2) the nature of the complaint, and (3) the student will receive a written response after deliberation within fifteen working days. Copies of the written student complaint and the acknowledgement letter will be sent to the cabinet level officer over the area.

Administrative Deliberation and Response: If the administrator to whom the complaint is forwarded determines that the nature of the complaint is beyond his/her area of supervision or expertise, the next level administrator in the area should be consulted and may be requested to respond to the student. Administrative disposition of the complaint will generally consist of investigation into the source of the complaint, previous efforts to resolve the issue, and any contingencies that will aid in the deliberation and disposition of the problem. The responding administrator will send to the student a written statement of attempted resolution to the problem. A copy of the deliberation response will be sent to the appropriate cabinet level officer. All formal student complaints will be forwarded upon resolution to the President’s office by each cabinet officer where a log will be kept.

Student Appeal Process: Upon receiving a deliberation response to the written complaint, the student has the right of appeal to a senior administrator who oversees the area about which the complaint was lodged. This appeal must be made in writing within five working days of receiving the Administrative response. In each case, the student will receive an acknowledgement of the appeal within five working days and a deliberation response within fifteen working days from the date of the acknowledgment letter.

Administrative Levels for Student Complaints: The appropriate cabinet level officer for student complaints will be as follows: 

  • Vice President for Academic Affairs – academic, accreditation, information technology, institutional research, library, registrar, and retention issues
  • Vice President for Finance and Administration/Chief Financial Officer – auxiliary services (bookstore, dining hall), facilities, financial aid, human resources, and student accounts issues
  • Vice President for Development – alumni, development, and fundraising issues
  • Vice President for Student Experience – athletics, public safety, residence life, spiritual life, student activities, student organizations, and student services issues
  • Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management – admission and extension campus issues
  • Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications – media, publications, and public relations issues

In the event that the original Administrative response was sent by one of the cabinet level officers listed above, the student’s appeal should be directed to the Student Experience Appeals committee. The appeal timeline stated above applies. Following its investigation and deliberation, the committee will send to the student a written statement of decision. The decision of the committee will be final.

Source: HPU Student Handbook

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Student Complaint Process

After exhausting the Howard Payne’s complaint process, current, former, and prospective students may initiate a complaint with THECB by sending the required forms either by electronic mail to, or by mail to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Office of General Counsel, P.O. Box 12788, Austin, Texas 78711-2788. Facsimile transmissions of the forms are not accepted. For more information regarding the THECB Complaint Process, click here or below.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Complaint Process

For information regarding the process of filing a complaint with HPU’s accrediting organization, SACSCOC, click here or below.

Note that the complaint policy only addresses significant, documented, alleged non-compliance with the SACSCOC accreditation standards, policies, or procedures. Complainants are expected to have attempted to resolve the issue through the institution’s complaint processes before filing a complaint with SACSCOC. The SACSCOC complaint process is not intended to be used to involve the Commission in disputes between individuals and member institutions or to cause the Commission to interpose itself as a reviewing authority in individual matters; nor does the policy allow the Commission to seek redress on an individual’s behalf. The primary purpose of the SACSCOC complaint procedure is to acquire valuable information regarding an accredited institution’s possible non-compliance with accreditation standards, policies, and procedures rather than to resolve individual disputes.

Complaints must be tied to specific standard numbers from The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. To file a complaint, complete the Commission’s Complaint Form and send two print copies to the President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097.