Degree-granting Institutions of Higher Education who are not NC-SARA approved through their State Portal Entity because they do not offer online instruction, who are now seeking temporary authorization from the RIOPC during the COVID-19 pandemic to offer instruction online to Rhode Island residents, should request permission in writing to the Commissioner of Postsecondary Education and include details on how the institution is supporting such transition, and information related to technology, faculty training/support, student accessibility, anticipated duration of transition, and their student complaint resolution policy.


The Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC) is aware of the health concerns schools are facing due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.  Approved proprietary schools may cease to offer face-to-face instruction to protect the well-being of students, staff and instructors, and offer distance education according to plans filed with the RIOPC.  Schools that do not have the ability to offer distance learning options to students may postpone classes for the immediate future, according to plans filed with the RIOPC.


Student Complaint

The United States Department of Education Regulation 34 CFR 600.9, the “Program Integrity Rule,” as part of its state authorization provisions, requires states to provide a process for students to file complaints relating to programs offered by postsecondary educational institutions authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The specific types of complaints covered by these regulations are: 

  • Allegations of state consumer protection violations, including, but not limited to fraud and false advertising;
  • Allegations that state laws or rules addressing the licensure of postsecondary institutions have been violated; and
  • Allegations regarding the quality of education or other accreditation requirements.

If your complaint regards other matters, you are encouraged to seek resolution from that institution first through the institution's internal complaint procedure. In accordance with the Council on Postsecondary Education's Student Complaint Procedure (S-16, section I), if the institution's internal procedure fails to resolve the complaint, the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner will then refer the student and/or third-party individuals with complaints related to federal or state laws or regulations to the appropriate federal or state agency. In addition, students or other individuals with complaints involving an allegation of criminal and/or illegal activity will be referred to their campus police department, their local police department, or the Rhode Island State Police. Complaints involving allegations of discrimination will be referred to the institution’s Affirmative Action Office and/or Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (or the applicable federal EEOC office).

If your complaint deals with an online course or program, the Office can help you seek resolution pursuant to the Council on Postsecondary Education's Student Complaint Procedure (S-16, section II).


File a complaint