CSU Policy: Student Complaint Reporting

Policy Title: Student Complaint Reporting Category: Student Affairs
Owner: Vice President for Student Affairs Policy ID#: 8-8004-004
Dean of Students
Web: http://studentaffairs.colostate.edu/
Email: vpsa@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-5312
Original Effective Date: 2/19/2013
Last Revision: 2/17/2020
Print Version: Click Here to Print


The purpose of this policy is to help assure Colorado State University students a quality education, provide excellent student support services, and help the university identify any serious or systemic problems or issues affecting the quality of the educational experience. The principles and procedures set forth in this policy are intended to allow stakeholders and members of the public to provide information that can indicate potential concerns regarding compliance with accreditation requirements and help CSU meet its obligations for receiving, responding to and tracking student complaints.


This policy applies to all students who are enrolled at Colorado State University at the time that the complaint is filed in accordance with the policy.


Student: an individual who is currently enrolled full-time or part-time or was enrolled at the institution within the previous two semesters (one academic year) when the underlying facts and circumstances of the complaint first occurred, and who has not been suspended or dismissed, or otherwise is required to re-apply for admission.

Parents, relatives, employers, agents, and other persons acting for or on behalf of a Student are not Students within the meaning of this Policy.

Student Complaint: A written complaint made and signed by a Student that is received by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA) (see Procedures section below).


The following matters are not handled as Student Complaints within the scope of this policy, but may be directed for attention as follows:

  • Complaints or grievances of substantive concern for accreditation should be directed to the Higher Learning Commission. Examples of such complaints as well as the appropriate submission forms are available online.
  • Complaints or grievances arising from, or made in connection with a student’s employment by the University in any capacity should be directed to Human Resources or the Office of Equal Opportunity, as appropriate. The University Ombuds also may assist with matters related to employment. See References section below.
  • Grade appeals are handled according to procedures set forth in the General Catalog, not through the student complaint process, except that unethical, illegal, or improper conduct of a faculty member may be the subject of a Student Complaint, even if it occurs in the context of a grade decision or appeal. For more information, see the Student Resolution Center website.
  • Curriculum matters, including waivers of All University Core Curriculum (AUCC) course requirements and related appeals are reviewed by the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs. Information regarding academic appeals can be found on the Office of the Registrar’s Website.  Students are encouraged to meet with their assigned degree analyst in the Office of the Registrar or academic advisor to review options for appeals. 
  • Matters concerning graduation requirements for undergraduate students are handled by the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs. Students seeking information regarding appeals to university graduation requirements should contact the Office of the Registrar for guidance on the appeals process.  Graduate students should contact the Graduate School for assistance.
  • Registration complaints and appeals must be directed to the Office of the Registrar for undergraduate students; graduate students should contact the Graduate School.
  • Sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and sex discrimination, and other discrimination complaints are governed under separate policies. See the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) home page. See also: CSU Policy on Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking and Retaliation.
  • Financial issues such as tuition and fee assessments and departmental fees may be made directly to the Office of Financial Aid. See the Financial Aid website for contact information. For questions or problems with a student account billing statement, see the Business and Financial Services website for contact information.

In addition, students always have the option to use the CSU System’s Compliance Reporting Hotline when the subject matter of the complaint concerns alleged fraud, abuse, waste of University resources, or violation of any law or regulation by the University in connection with its official business functions.


Colorado State University is committed to treating all students equitably and respectfully. The University’s policies that apply to students are published annually in the General Catalog, in addition to those found in other resources from individual departments and offices. In an instance of perceived violation of a University policy, a student may file a complaint in accordance with this Policy.

CSU recognizes the value of information provided by stakeholders and the public and is committed to prompt, fair and equitable resolution of meritorious complaints.


Student complaints not falling under the categories or other policies identified above should be made to the supervisor or responsible staff member of the area from which the complaint originates for attempted informal resolution of the complaint. Many problems are resolved when a student makes an appointment with a faculty or staff member and calmly and honestly communicates their concerns.

If, however, an issue or problem still exists, a student may initiate the formal complaint procedures at CSU. All formal complaints must be put in writing and must be signed by the student (including electronic or digital facsimile signatures clearly attributable to the student--for example, the student’s name in an email message received from their CSU email account). A Student Complaint Form is provided as a tool for presenting a written complaint, but is not required.

Procedures for Filing a Written Complaint

  1. Attempt an informal resolution of the matter as noted above.
  2. Complete the Student Complaint Form and mail, email, or deliver it to the VPSA Office:  Vice President for Student Affairs, Attn: Dean of Students, 201 Administration Building, 8004 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523-8004; email: VPSA@colostate.edu; Tel: 970-491-5312

The VPSA Office will notify you with an acknowledgement that the complaint was received.

NOTE: All Student Complaints must be submitted in writing. A complaint reported by telephone will not be considered as submitted for review.

Complaint Review and Resolution Process

The VPSA Office is not an advocate for any party to a dispute but is an advocate for a fair process. Acting as a neutral, third party, the Dean of Students or designee will first attempt to resolve the complaint by working with the student and the appropriate university employees and officials to assure a fair process. The Dean of Students may refer the matter to Conflict Resolution Services at the Student Resolution Center (SRC) for assistance in attempting an informal resolution. This assures that the complaint is considered by the appropriate officials and receives an impartial review.

If the matter is not resolved informally, the Dean of Students will forward the complaint to the appropriate university official for further review and attempt to resolve the matter. If the matter is still not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, the Dean of Students will help identify other resources that may be available to the student including any appeals that may be available from agencies external to the University, including the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) and Higher Learning Commission (HLC). (See the contact information under References, below).

A record of the complaint and its disposition will be maintained in the VPSA Office.

Complaint Tracking

The VPSA Office (or its designee) will track each Student Complaint, and will maintain a record that includes, at a minimum, the following information:

  • The date that the Student Complaint was received;
  • The Student(s) identified with the Complaint;
  • The nature of the Student Complaint, with a copy attached, to be retained for not less than two (2) years after its final disposition;
  • The university officials who were asked to address the complaint and the steps taken to resolve it;
  • The final resolution or disposition of the complaint;
  • Any external actions taken by the complainant of which VPSA becomes aware.

The information tracked will be made available to regulatory agencies and accrediting bodies, including the Higher Learning Commission and the Colorado Department of Higher Education, as required in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and policies.


Failure to comply with this policy may result in no action being taken with respect to the subject matter of a complaint, or other disposition by the VPSA. Where such failure also involves a violation of rules and policies regarding student or employee conduct, disciplinary action may result in accordance with the applicable rules and policies.


Code of Federal Regulations 34 CFR 602.16(a)(1)(ix)

Higher Learning Commission-Student Complaint Process 

Colorado Dept. of Higher Education Student Complaint Policy


Effective February 19, 2013

Revision approved by Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations, on February 17, 2020



Print Version: Click Here to Print

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