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Student Complaint Resolution

In compliance with federal law, Swarthmore College provides the following information to our prospective and current students.

The Law

Swarthmore College participates in Federal student aid programs that are authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.  A participating institution must be legally authorized to operate within the State in which it is located.  Title 34 CFR 600.9 requires States to have a “process to review and appropriately act on complaints concerning the institution including enforcing applicable State Laws.”  Title 34 CFR 668.43(b) requires that institutions: “make available for review to any enrolled or prospective student upon request, a copy of the documents describing the institution’s accreditation and its State, Federal or tribal approval or licensing.  The institution must also provide students or prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accreditor and with its State approval or licensing entity and any other relevant State official or agency that would appropriately handle a student’s complaint.”

Swarthmore policy

Swarthmore College makes every effort to resolve student complaints internally, using policies and procedures outlined in the College Catalog or Student Handbook. It is expected that students will be able to fully utilize all such administrative procedures to address concerns and/or complaints in as timely a manner as possible.  For procedures regarding:

Academic Grade Appeal:

“Students are free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for meeting the standards of any course of study in which they may be enrolled. Members of the faculty are solely responsible for establishing and maintaining the academic standards of the courses they teach. Students who strongly believe they have been evaluated capriciously or with prejudice are free to bring the matter to the attention of the appropriate department chair, or if necessary, the Provost. Final judgment, however, must remain with the instructor.” (from the Handbook for Instructional Staff, section II-B-10:)

Committee on Academic Requirements Appeals:

Students who are required to withdraw by the Committee on Academic Requirements have the opportunity to appeal to the Dean of Students via letter. More information about the Committee on Academic Requirements can be found in the Student Handbook

Academic Misconduct Violations:

Refer to the Student Handbook or consult with the Associate Dean of Students

Code of Student Conduct Violations:

Refer to the Student Handbook or consult with the Associate Dean of Students

Americans with Disabilities Act:

Refer to the Notice of Non-discrimination and Statement of Equal Opportunity and Student Disability Service Policy or consult with the Student Disability Service office

Harassment or Discrimination:

Refer to the Notice of Non-discrimination and Statement of Equal Opportunity or consult with the Equal Opportunity Office (or the Title IX Office for sexual misconduct or gender-based issues)

Title IX:

Refer to the Student Handbook and SHARE website.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA):

Refer the ​Student Handbook

Criminal Activity:

Complaints involving matters of a criminal nature, such as assault, battery, and theft should be directed to the Office of Public Safety at 610-328-8333 or can be reported online through the Public Safety website.

Swarthmore College Hotline:

If you do not feel comfortable with an internal reporting option, the Swarthmore College Hotline - (866) 292-7713 - is another avenue you may choose to report any kind of inappropriate activities at the College. This toll-free line is available 24/7 and there will always be someone available to speak with you. The line is managed by an outside company that will listen to your concern and direct it to the appropriate college official for prompt and corrective action. You may remain anonymous or you may choose to identify yourself. Regardless of your decision, your information will be documented and addressed appropriately.


In the unlikely event that an issue cannot be resolved through an internal College complaint process, students should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the applicable agency for oversight in resolving complaints or complete this complaint form [pdf].

Swarthmore College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (267) 284-5000.   Once all other avenues provided by the College and the State Agency have been exhausted, unresolved complaints may be filed with the accrediting agency using its official complaint form.

(Adapted and Revised based on St. Francis University’s website on student complaints)