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Student Appeals and Complaints

Student Appeals and Complaints

UMass Lowell has established clear and transparent processes for resolving student concerns. These fall into two main categories: appeals and complaints. The process for each type of appeal or complaint is described below.

Student Appeals:

Student Complaints:

  • Complaints about Courses or Instruction - Students with concerns about a course should seek first to resolve problems by discussion with the faculty member. If this is not feasible, or if, after discussion between the student and professor, the matter is not resolved, the students may pursue additional avenues.
  • Non-Academic Complaints - Students with complaints about non-academic campus issues should contact The Solution Center. Complaints registered with the Solution Center will be forwarded to the appropriate department or office for response.
  • Reporting Concerns to Governing Bodies - Students with a significant, systemic concern about UMass Lowell may also file a complaint with the New England Commission on Higher Education or with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
  • Online Student Complaints - UMass Lowell is a member of The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), which, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Higher Education, aims to ensure quality in online education. Student complaints about matters relating to online education should proceed first through the campus processes above. If the issue is not resolved, students may address those complaints using the process described.

Student Appeals

UMass Lowell is deeply committed to providing students with accurate and accessible information related to their experience at UMass Lowell both inside and outside the classroom. All academic policies and procedures are published in UMass Lowell’s online catalog and the Student Conduct Code and Judicial Process. There are a number of appeal procedures in place to review issues that students may encounter.

Student Registration and Enrollment Appeals

The academic calendar clearly designates the add/drop period for each academic semester. There are no refunds after the add/drop period. Appeals related to registration/enrollment issues and requests for refunds due extenuating circumstances are reviewed by the Student Status Committee, comprised of representatives from the Registrar’s Office, Student Financial Services, Financial Aid, Division of Graduate, Online & Professional Studies and designees of the Office of the Provost. A student who has experienced extenuating circumstances that prevented the student from dropping or withdrawing from a course or courses may appeal for consideration by submitting their request to the Student Status Committee. This request may be emailed to:, faxed to 978-934-4076, or mailed to Office of the Registrar, University Crossing, Suite M10, 220 Pawtucket St., Lowell, MA 01854-5129. Claims of extenuating circumstances must be supported by documentation.

Please review this information before submitting the appeal:

  1. Students are strongly advised to discuss the academic impact of withdrawing from classes with an academic advisor, the Financial Aid Office and other areas of the university which may be impacted by a change in status as a student such as Athletics, Veterans Services, International Student Office, and Residence Life. Dropping or withdrawing from classes may have an adverse effect on your financial aid, veterans benefits, athletics eligibility, international student status, eligibility to remain in housing and probationary standing. Students who receive financial assistance in the term associated with the request may be required to repay financial aid funds, and this may impact eligibility to receive financial aid in future terms.
  2. Appeals must be made prior to the end of the academic term in which the late drop/withdrawal occurred or refund is requested. Appeals that are made beyond this time frame will only be reviewed when there is documentation of a circumstance that prevented the student from appealing within the academic term.
  3. Documentation supporting your request must be attached to the appeal. If the committee cannot verify the circumstances of the appeal, the appeal will be denied. If additional documentation is necessary, you will be notified through your UMass Lowell student email account. 
  4. Appeals that involve instructional or academic issue(s) will be forwarded to the department chair or faculty coordinator of the major or program in which the course is offered. If the issue is related strictly to grading or a grading policy, students should see the specific policy and procedure for filing this type of appeal/complaint.
  5. If you have questions about Student Status appeal process, contact the Registrar’s Office at 978-934-2550.

Medical Withdrawal Request

Requests related to medical issues should be made directly to the Student Health Services Office. Students should visit the Medical Withdrawal site for details of the policy and process.

Academic Suspension Appeal

All students are required to maintain at least a 2.000 average throughout their academic career. Academic records are evaluated at the end of each semester. No student, however, will be academically suspended from the university without having at least one semester of academic warning. Some academic departments may have requirements specific to their academic program, however overall the minimum 2.0 academic standing is a university wide requirement. Students who are placed on academic suspension are sent a letter notifying them of their status which outlines the process for appeal for the college in which the student is enrolled. A suspended student may submit a written appeal to the College Dean or designee requesting permission to continue enrollment for an additional semester an academic probation. If permission to continue is granted, the program of study that must be undertaken and the minimum semester grade-point average that must be attained during the additional semester of academic warning will be made explicit. Detailed information on UMass Lowell’s Academic Standing can be found in the academic catalog.

Financial Aid and Student Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal

Students are required to make Satisfactory Academic Progress to maintain their eligibility for Financial Aid. The complete Satisfactory Academic Progress policy is available online. While this is process is related to a student's academic standing, it is a separate process from Academic Standing and students must submit their appeal directly to the Financial Aid Office.

Academic Integrity Appeal

The University of Massachusetts Lowell Academic Integrity policy and detailed appeal process may be found in the online academic catalog.

Student Conduct and the Judicial Process

Students who wish to make an appeal related to student conduct or the judicial process should review the appeals process outlined in the UMass Lowell’s Conduct Code. Any questions related to this process should be directed to the Office of Student Conduct at 978-934-2100.

Student Complaints

Complaints about Courses or Instruction

Students normally should seek to resolve problems by discussion with the faculty member. If this is not feasible or if, after discussion between the student and professor, the matter cannot be resolved, the student has two options, listed below. Students are encouraged to pursue option (1) but if unsatisfied with the result of option (1), may pursue option (2):

  1. The student may have an informal discussion about the issue with the Chairperson of the department in which the alleged violation may have occurred. Should the department Chairperson be the subject of any complaint, the student may instead have a discussion with the Dean of the college in which the alleged violation may have occurred. This option is not a formal complaint, and does not require filing a complaint. If the student is satisfied with the result of the conversation, and a conclusion is mutually agreed upon, then all parties involved will follow the agreed upon solution. After the involved parties follow the agreed upon solution, no further action is required.

    In all instances, where feasible, the identity of the student shall remain anonymous to the faculty member who is the subject of the complaint. However, in circumstances where the student’s identity must be known, such as an instance in which the misconduct of a faculty member has impacted the student’s grade and the professor is the only one who can change the grade, the student’s identification must be made known to the professor so that the grade can be changed.

    However, if the student is unsatisfied with the result of the informal discussion with the Chairperson or Dean, or the student decides not to have an informal discussion and would rather directly file a formal complaint, the student may choose to file a formal complaint [see option (2) below].

  2. The student may file a formal complaint. The student must document the complaint either in writing or by email, and address it to the Chairperson of the Department, or Dean of the College in which the alleged violation may have occurred.

The complaint must include the following elements:

  • (I) Student Name
  • (II) Student ID
  • (III) Class Section
  • (IV) Faculty Member
  • (V) Description of the Problem/Violation
  • (VI) Description of Attempt to Resolve Problem/Violation

If a formal complaint is filed, the faculty member who is the subject of the complaint will have the opportunity explain the situation to their appropriate superior (see below for more details of when and how the faculty member will discuss the issue with the Chairperson or Dean).

In all instances, a Chairperson or Dean must, in writing or by email, acknowledge receipt of the student’s complaint as well as include a suggested remedy within four (4) academic calendar days of sending the complaint/filing a formal complaint.

If the student has not received a reply from the Chairperson within four (4) academic calendar days of sending the complaint/filing a formal complaint, then the student may communicate the complaint, in writing or by email, to the Dean of the College in which the alleged problem and/or violation is occurring.

If the student has not received a reply from the Dean within five (5) academic calendar days, then the student may communicate the complaint to the Office of the Provost in writing or by email. 

The Chairperson or Dean will discuss the problem with the student and/or faculty member, and then determine whether the complaint is valid. Copies of the complaint, together with the written decision of the Chairperson or Dean, will be sent to the student, the faculty member, the Provost, and the President of the Massachusetts Society of Professors or the respective Faculty Union.

Formal complaints about classroom problems shall be initiated before the last day of semester examinations. The determination of the Chairperson or Dean must be made within ten (10) working days following receipt of the student complaint and, if unchallenged by the MSP, is final. If the complaint is made towards the end of the semester, during finals week (for example, if the complaint is made on December 18, and the semester closes for winter break on December 19), the complaint is still valid and must be addressed. However, the student must receive a reply and an acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint within seven (7) business days and a final determination must be made in time for the student’s grade to be adjusted, if authorized, or other action deemed appropriate to be executed.

Professors are encouraged to provide the above policy, or at least a link to the above policy, in their class syllabus.

Non-Academic Complaints

Students who wish to issue a general complaint about a specific class or faculty member should follow the complaint process outlined above. Students may also submit an appeal for medical, financial and academic reasons. All other concerns should be directed to or mailed to The Solution Center, University Crossing, Suite 131, 220 Pawtucket St., Lowell, MA 01854-5129. Claims of extenuating circumstances must be supported by documentation.

InstitutionalReporting Concerns to Governing Bodies

Students with concerns or complaints about If an issue cannot be resolved internally, the student may file a complaint about the University of Massachusetts Lowell with these organizations:

Online Student Complaints

Unresolved Complaints

A. Out-of-state Students

Out-of-state students residing in NC-SARA (National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) states — which include all states except California — whose complaints are not resolved through the UMass Lowell Institutional Complaint Process can submit complaints to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education through the SARA Student Complaint Form

For more information, contact:

Tiamekia Johnson, Paralegal and Regulatory Affairs Specialist
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education
One Ashburton Place, Room 1401
Boston, MA 02108

B. Massachusetts residents and Online Students in Non-SARA States and Territories

After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by UMass Lowell, located above, if you have a complaint or concern that has not been resolved by UMass Lowell, you may file a general complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) by using the general complaint form. The DHE general complaint form should be used by students who are located in: 

  • Massachusetts 
  • Non-SARA Member States or Territories (e.g., California, Guam, etc.) 

Online students with non-academic complaints: If you have a non-academic complaint that you would like to bring to our attention, please use the non-academic complaint form to provide us with a brief description of the issue.