Student Complaint Information

NECO strives to provide a positive experience for our community members. In order to promote the development of quality programs and services, we have established a process to review and address complaints that do not fall within the purview of other established policies and processes. This allows the opportunity to promote quality standards and make effective decisions about improvements to programs and services.

What is Distance Education?

Distance Education refers to certain educational activities that occur outside Massachusetts. These include online programs, but also activities such as field placements, clinical rotations, externships, academic internships, and practica. 

What is State Authorization?

Institutions of higher education are required to obtain authorization for their distance education offerings from individual states, in accordance with each state’s laws and regulations.

Why is State Authorization Information important?

As a Massachusetts institution, NECO wants to provide students and prospective students who are located in other states the information they need to determine if NECO’s distance education offerings are authorized in that State. Providing this information to students is also mandated by state and federal laws and regulations governing State Authorization.

Complaint Resolution

The New England College of Optometry makes every attempt to resolve student complaints within its academic and administrative departments. Students should first attempt to resolve any concerns by utilizing existing NECO procedures.

The Consumer Information webpage  and the Grievance section in the Student Handbook provide information about ways that students and prospective students can report concerns and utilize NECO’s complaint procedures.

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, in its capacity as the SARA portal entity for Massachusetts, reviews and evaluates student complaints regarding distance education activities offered by the New England College of Optometry in accordance with 610 CMR 12.07.

If an issue regarding distance education cannot be resolved internally, please see the process below.

For Distance Education Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories

After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by NECO, located here, if your complaint has not been resolved, you may file a complaint with the DHE by using the SARA complaint formPlease note: for SARA complaints, students are explicitly required to exhaust the institution’s available complaint procedures before filing a SARA complaint.

The DHE SARA complaint form should be used by students who are located in SARA member states and territories. This includes all students who are located in SARA member states and territories for the purposes of completing out-of-state learning placements, such as internships, practica, clinical experiences, etc. in SARA member states and territories outside Massachusetts.

Additional information from the DHE’s SARA complaint website is below:

The SARA complaint process is as follows:

  1. Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by the SARA institution.
  2. After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with the MA-SARA institution, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via the URL below.
  3. The Department shall send a copy of the complaint to the institution that is the subject of the complaint;
  4. Within 30 days of the date that the Department sends a copy of the complaint to the institution, the institution must provide a written response to the student and the Department.

More information about DHE’s complaint processes can be found here.

For Massachusetts Residents and Distance Education Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories

If you have a complaint or concern that has not been resolved by NECO, you may file a consumer complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) by using the consumer complaint form. The DHE consumer complaint form should be used by students who are located in:

  • Massachusetts
  • Non-SARA Member States or Territories (e.g., California, Guam, etc.)
For Distance Education Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories
Students residing in California may file a complaint about distance education as follows:

California Department of Consumer Affairs Consumer Information Center
1625 North Market Blvd, Suite N-112
Sacramento, California 95834
833- 942-1120
[email protected]