State Authorization and Out-of-State Complaint Resolution


Susan Lewis
Director of Accreditation & Assessment, (541) 506-6047


Online and distance education is an important part of Columbia Gorge Community College's program offerings. Recent amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965 include changes in regulation for State Authorization that may impact online education providers. The relevant language includes:

If an institution is offering postsecondary education to students in a State in which it is not physically located or in which it is otherwise subject to State jurisdiction as determined by the State, the institution must meet any State requirements for it to be legally offering postsecondary online education in that State. An institution must be able to document to the Secretary the State's approval upon request.
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1001 and 1002)

National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements LogoState Authorization under SARA

Columbia Gorge Community College has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). As a member of NC-SARA, CGCC has agreed to abide by national standards for the interstate offering of post-secondary distance education courses and programs. Membership to NC-SARA eases the institutional regulatory requirements at the states' level, allowing for broader access to online learning to students in SARA-participant states.

*** ALERT: In order to minimize costs associated with obtaining authorization to offer online courses and programs to residents of non-SARA states, CGCC will not be accepting students whose residence is in the following states: California.

Complaint Resolution

CGCC Student Complaint Process

Columbia Gorge Community College strives to resolve all student complaints in a fair and expedient manner. CGCC distance education students wishing to file a formal complaint must first seek resolution through CGCC's internal General Complaint Procedures for Students. Students may also contact Student Services for more information.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) Complaint Process

CGCC participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) through the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). If a student's complaint cannot be resolved internally at CGCC, and if the student resides in a SARA member state, the student may also file a complaint through the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission as per the following directive from the HECC: 

Students should attempt to resolve any grievances they may have with their school first. Should attempts to resolve these problems with appropriate school officials fail, or should the student be dissatisfied with the final outcome of the college complaint process, then the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), can respond to a formal complaint.  Students may contact the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, 3225 25th St. SE, Salem, OR 97302 or by sending an email to  Students may also access our Complaints web page at

Students not finding satisfaction with CGCC's resolution of a complaint may also contact CGCC's accrediting body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Out-of-State Complaint Process

Distance students residing outside of Oregon may file a formal complaint with their home state authorizing agency after exhausting internal avenues described above.

Complaint resolution contacts by state

Professional Licensure Disclosures

In compliance with the U.S. Department of Education and the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) for participation in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA), Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) provides information pertaining to professional licensure in correlation with appropriate CGCC programs.

CGCC Accreditation

CGCC is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). The Oregon State Board of Higher Education has authorized the college to offer career and technical education certificates and associate level degrees. Information regarding complaint process can be found on the NWCCU website.

More Information

WCET summary of requirements
WCET has compiled a summary of what states and institutions need to do to meet the new Federal Regulations.