UW System Student Complaint Process Information

Pursuant to the United States Department of Education’s Program Integrity Rule, an individual may file a complaint against any of University of Wisconsin System’s public institutions alleging a violation of one or more of the following categories:

  • Complaints that allege a violation of state consumer protection laws that include but are not limited to fraud and false advertising;
  • Complaints that allege a violation of state law or rule relating to the licensure of postsecondary institutions; and/or
  • Complaints relating to the quality of education or other State or accreditation requirements.

Under the University of Wisconsin System Administration (UWSA) policies and procedures, an individual should utilize the institution’s internal complaint or review policies and procedures through the Office for Student Affairs or Office of the Provost prior to contacting UWSA. If a resolution is not reached at the institution level, or if you believe that the nature of the complaint or its impact on the system as a whole warrants an immediate review, please contact Academic Programs and Educational Innovation (APEI) at or call 608.262.8778.


Complaint Process

Any individual who reasonably believes that a violation of one or more of the Program Integrity categories has occurred may file a written complaint with the University of Wisconsin System Administration in the following manner:

  1. Within one (1) calendar year from the date of the alleged violation or the last recorded date of the affected student’s attendance at the affected institution, whichever is later, and after exhausting all reasonable avenues available to the student through their institution’s internal complaint or review policies and procedures ( please see Section I) the individual (“complainant”) shall submit a written statement to the University of Wisconsin System Administration - Department of Academic, Faculty, and Global Programs (AFGP) which summarizes the alleged violation of the institution and/or its representatives. This statement shall include, at minimum, a detailed statement of the nature of the incident(s) in question, any monies owed or balances dues to the institution, names and titles of faculty, staff or students who are involved in the incident(s), documentation of records relating to the complaint and any other documentation that may assist in AFGP’s factual determination of the merits of the complaint. The complainant shall also state what, if any, remedy is sought. The complainant shall check the box affirming the truth and accuracy of the complaint.
  2. The complainant shall check the box affirming that the complainant consents to AFGP and/or the institution’s disclosure of any protected or confidential information that may pertain to the complaint for the purpose of review, investigation, and/or resolution of this matter.
  3. The complainant shall agree to be available for additional information and/or questions from AFGP in order to properly review the complaint. If the complainant fails to provide requested information to AFGP as a part of this process, AFGP may unilaterally dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the complainant has refused to willingly participate in the complaint review process.
  4. If the complainant has filed an external complaint or grievance with an external state agency prior or during the filing of a complaint under this review process, the complainant shall notify AFGP in order to avoid a duplication of the investigative process regarding a same or similar complaint with another state agency.
  5. Anonymous complaints shall not be considered valid complaints under this complaint review process and should be referred back to the affected institution for further consideration in accordance with campus policies and procedures.
  6. It should be noted that state law may also provide for the public disclosure of any existing record or document that is a part of the complaint review process under the Wisconsin Open Records Law, Wis. Stats. 19.31, unless specifically exempt from disclosure by law.

AFGP shall do the following:

  1.  AFGP shall provide the affected institution's provost with a copy of the complaint within 15 business days of its receipt
  2. If the individual has not notified the applicable institution of the alleged events that lead up to the complaint, AFGP may, at its discretion, refer the complaint back to the institution for further review and consideration under its applicable institutional policies and procedures. Upon the completion of the institution’s review, complaint or grievance process, if the complainant remains interested in pursuing his or her complaint under this complaint review process, the complainant needs to submit a new formal complaint to AFGP.
  3. Upon receipt of a complaint or allegations that has not been reviewed by the institution as required above,  AFGP may accept and review the complaint without institutional review upon AFGP’s determination that the nature of the allegation(s) and/or the impact on the system as a whole warrants an immediate review by the AFGP through this complaint process.
  4. No later than 15 business days from the receipt of the complaint, AFGP shall conduct an initial review of the allegations contained in the complaint in order to determine whether the complaint meets the category requirements and is timely. If the complaint fails to meet the criteria, AFGP may dismiss the complaint and no further action shall be required.   
  5. No later than 30 days after determining that the complaint meets the necessary criteria under program integrity and is timely, AFGP shall provide the complainant and the institution with the opportunity to meet in order to reach an informal resolution that is mutually-acceptable to the complainant and the institution.
  6. If no informal resolution is reached, then AFGP shall conduct a review and/or investigation into the allegations. This review or investigative process shall be completed within a 90 calendar day period, unless additional time is necessary to properly complete the review or investigation process. AFGP may conduct fact-finding during which the complainant and the institution shall be offered an opportunity to submit any relevant and material evidence and information in support their respective positions. Either party may request the presence of a representative during a meeting and/or investigatory interview of the respective party. However, the parties shall be required to speak on their own behalf at all times during this complaint review process. The parties shall be expected to fully cooperate in this review or investigative process. Failure to do so may lead to dismissal of the complaint in its entirety.
  7. No later than 60 calendar days from the conclusion of the review and/or investigative process, the Associate Vice President of AFGP shall issue his or her written decision to the complainant and the institution.  The decision may include one or more of the following determinations:
    • That there was insufficient evidence to find that a violation of one or more of the program integrity rule criteria occurred;
    • That the complaint is dismissed due to lack of cooperation or participation on the part of the complainant, untimely filing, or fails to fall within one or more of the required program integrity rule criteria;
    • A recommended course of action for the institution to assure compliance with applicable laws or rules;
    • A directive to the institution and/or any other remedy or resolution that is deemed appropriate and reasonable in response to the alleged violation;
    • A referral of the complaint to another state agency with jurisdiction and authority over the issue; or
    • Any other remedy or action that is deemed appropriate and reasonable.
  8. The decision of  Associate Vice President shall be final and not subject to any further appeal or review by the Board of Regents or the University of Wisconsin System Administration. The complainant may pursue any further claim or complaint through applicable state or federal law.

To access and submit an official PIR Complaint Form to the UW System click here.


UW System Program Integrity Rule Requirements

Summary of Program Integrity Rule: The United States Department of Education has issued regulations titled “Program Integrity Rule” which are intended to address concerns relating to the integrity of programs offered by postsecondary educational institutions and authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA), as amended. The applicable section of the regulations, 34 CFR Part 600.9, requires the state of Wisconsin to establish a complaint process in order to receive, review, and respond to complaints against colleges and universities offering postsecondary education programs.  Requirements under this rule include:

Establishing a Complaint Process for Program Integrity: Pursuant to an Executive Order issued by Governor Scott Walker on June 28, 2011, the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and/or the University of Wisconsin System Administration are authorized to handle complaints relating to program integrity as described in Section I that involve all of the University of Wisconsin System’s public institutions under the authority and control of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System as listed in the next section.

Accreditation Agency: Pursuant to Wis. Stats. Ch. 36, the University of Wisconsin System’s public institutions are legally authorized to provide postsecondary education in the state of Wisconsin and are accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC). The following public institutions are under the authority and control of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System:

University of Wisconsin-Madison; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; University of Wisconsin-La Crosse; University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh; University of Wisconsin-Parkside; University of Wisconsin-Platteville; University of Wisconsin-River Falls; University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; University of Wisconsin-Stout; University of Wisconsin-Superior; University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; and the University of Wisconsin Colleges located at Baraboo/Sauk County, Barron County, Fond du Lac, Fox Valley, Manitowoc, Marathon County, Marinette, Marshfield/Wood County, Richland, Rock County, Sheboygan, Washington County, and Waukesha.

The University of Wisconsin’s accreditation documents are available through the Higher Learning Commission on its webpage.

State Agencies

State Agencies, Councils or Boards that might have jurisdiction or authority over alleged violations

In the event that AFGP determines that the complaint does not fit within the program integrity categories, is untimely or is dismissed on other grounds, the complainant may seek review and /or remedy from one or more of the state agencies below that have jurisdiction or authority over the alleged violation: