State authorization is the legal directive that requires higher education institutions to be in compliance with the laws and regulations of each state where it conducts business. Each state has the authority to regulate educational activities that are delivered within and across its borders, including distance/online education. Compliance with individual state requirements is now part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Amended 2010. The act states that institutions offering distance education courses or programs must provide current and prospective students with the contact information for filing complaints with the college, its accrediting agency, and with the state agencies that handle complaints in the students’ state of residence. There can be significant consequences to institutions that are not in compliance with state authorization regulations, so Sandhills Community College takes this requirement very seriously.
The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) provides a regional approach to oversight of distance education and streamlines the process for institutions to become compliant in other states for distance education. Membership in NC-SARA is voluntary. NC-SARA ensures students are afforded various consumer protection benefits as well as access to quality programs by establishing a set of guidelines to which member institutions must adhere. You can read more about NC-SARA here. In December, 2017 Sandhills Community College was granted membership into NC-SARA. While membership in NC-SARA allows Sandhills to meet the basic state authorization requirements in other member states, we still must be compliant with professional licensing board requirements in other states.
To verify that Sandhills Community College is authorized to offer Distance Learning courses in your state, please visit the NC-SARA website. California is not part of NC-SARA. As an out-of-state public institution, SCC is not under the purview of the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education. SCC is in compliance with California regulations to offer online/distance learning programs to California residents.
Student Complaint Process for Online Courses
Out-of-state students who wish to file a complaint with their home state should refer to the list of state agencies responsible for handling complaints.
NC Post-Secondary Education Complaint Procedures
If a complaint cannot be resolved through the institution’s complaint process, students may file a complaint with the North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints unit. Please review the NC Post-Secondary Education Student Complaint Policy (PDF), print and complete the NC Post-Secondary Education Complaint Form (PDF)and submit the complaint to:
North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints
c/o Student Complaints
University of North Carolina General Administration
910 Raleigh Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2688
Phone: (919) 962-4550
Website: North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints
SACSCOC Student Complaint Process
Sandhills Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates. If a complaint directly related to specific compliance with the Principles of Accreditation is not satisfactorily resolved, students are able to file a complaint with SACSCOC.
Students should follow the SACSCOC Complaint Procedure
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
SARA-NC Complaint Process and Information
Students may also file a complaint through SARA-NC. SARA-NC is the portal for the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.
SARA North Carolina
North Caroline State Education Assistance Authority
P.O. Box 14103
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
T: (855) SARA-1-NC (727-2162)
T: (919) 549-8614, ext. 4667
SARA-NC Complaint Process
SARA-NC Complaint Form (PDF)
If you are considering a program at Sandhills Community College that leads to licensure or certification and you do not live in North Carolina, please contact the respective program coordinator for more information about obtaining licensure or certification in your home state.