Distance Education State Authorization Information and Complaints

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) – What is it?
Excerpt from the Georgia Non-public Postsecondary Education Commission
"SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements) is a national initiative which seeks to establish comparable national standards for the interstate offering of postsecondary distance-education courses and programs. SARA is a voluntary agreement among regional compacts (SREB, NEBHE, MHEC, and WICHE) and member states. Each member state approves their in-state institutions for SARA participation.  Institutional membership is voluntary and open to accredited, degree-granting institutions from all sectors of postsecondary education (proprietary, public, private).  Once approved, SARA member institutions may offer distance education programs in other SARA member states without additional authorization. For more information on SARA, visit NC-SARA Resources and for the latest listing of participating states and institutions, visit NC-SARA.  Institutional participation in SARA agreements is intended to simply the process of taking online courses across at institutions in other states.

Reference URL:  https://gnpec.georgia.gov/state-authorization-reciprocity-agreement-sara

Paine College is a participating institutional member of GA-SARA and NC-SARA and is authorized to offer distance education courses and programs to participating students.  Federal regulations require that contact information be provided for filing complaints with Paine College, with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS), and the appropriate state agency for handling complaints in the state where a student is located, in this case, the Georgia Non-public Postsecondary Education Commission (GNPEC) for GA - SARA.

If students have a complaint about Paine College's distance education courses, the following options are available:

Student Complaints
Step 1: All Students
All students, regardless of course delivery modality or physical location, should first seek resolution for complaints by speaking with the instructor, then department chair, and then academic affairs office.  Often resolution can be achieved if students schedule appointments with the instructor of record to address issues.   At the departmental level, the next course of action would be to discuss the issue with the department chair.  Students are advised to resolve issues at the instructor and departmental levels first.  If an issue cannot be resolved at these levels, there are other means by which a student may address complaints.  A comprehensive resource on student complaint and grievance procedures can be found on the Paine College website within the College Catalog.  Students may also contact the Office of Academic Affairs or the Office of Student Affairs for advice and guidance.

For questions concerning online and distance education courses or SARA-related issues, please contact the Acting Vice President of Academic Affairs and Director of Distance Education, Dr. M. Middleton, by mail: Office of Academic Affairs, 1235 Fifteenth Street, Augusta, Georgia  30919; via e-mail through mmiddleton@paine.edu; or phone: 706.396.8102.

Step 2: Determined by the Student's Physical Location
Located outside of Georgia: If a complaint cannot be resolved through Paine College's complaint process (Step 1), then students located in NC-SARA states, which includes all states except California, may submit complaints to the Georgia Non-public Postsecondary Education Commission with oversight for GA – SARA participating institutions.  If a complaint cannot be resolved through Paine College's complaint process, students may file a complaint with the Georgia Non-Public Postsecondary Education Commission.   Below are links to the state agency student complaint rules:

GNPEC Student Complaint Rules 

GNPEC Complaint Process 

GNPEC Complaint Form

For complaints concerning Federal Student Aid, contact the U.S. Department of Education

GNPEC Contact Information for GA-SARA
Georgia Non-Public Postsecondary Education Commission
2082 East Exchange Place
Tucker, GA 30084
Phone:  770.414.3300
Fax:  770.414.3309
Website:  https://gnpec.georgia.gov/student-resources/complaints-against-institution

Additional Resources for Student Complaints
Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)
Paine College is accredited by TRACS, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools to award bachelor's degrees.  TRACS expects resolution of complaints to be resolved by every means available through Paine College's procedures and processes before submitting a complaint to the accrediting body.  Complete information concerning the TRACS complaint process is located at BP104, Complaints Against Member Institutions or TRACS, located in the TRACS Policies and Procedures Manual at https://tracs.org/Documents/PoliciesandProceduresManual.pdf.  Complaints are submitted in writing on the TRACS Complaint Processing Form and in accordance with the provisions detailed on the TRACS Complaint Information Sheet.

Submit two hard copies of all materials associated with the complaint to:
Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools
15935 Forest Road
Forest, Virginia  24551
Phone :  434.525.9539
E-mail :  info@tracs.org
Website :  https://tracs.org/

Staging Enabled