• Read about CIA's student complaint process and policy for all campuses.
  • Student Complaint Process

    The purpose of The Culinary Institute of America’s (the CIA’s) Student Complaint Policy is to describe the processes available for use by Students to make complaints; for the timely review, investigation, resolution, and appeal of such complaints; for communications with Students who make complaints; and for related record-keeping. Student Complaints concerning grades or student conduct, however, are exempt from this policy and governed by the CIA’s academic policies and the Student Code of Conduct, respectively. This Student Complaint Policy promotes informal resolution as a first step, while providing fair and consistent formal processes for use when informal means fail to resolve a Student’s concern. This policy is intended to meet the requirements of federal financial aid laws and regulations, state authorization reciprocity agreements, and accreditation standards.


    The Culinary Institute of America (the CIA) has established processes for use by Students to make complaints; for the timely, prompt and equitable review, investigation, resolution, and appeal of such complaints; for communications with Students who make complaints; and for related record-keeping. The CIA requires Students first to try informal means to resolve their concerns with the appropriate CIA Employee. If the outcome is not satisfactory to a Student, he or she should use the appropriate channel available under the Student Complaint Policy for the type of complaint to be addressed. The CIA will communicate the results of its review of a complaint with the Student in a timely manner, whenever possible within 60 days of receipt of the complaint. The CIA complies with related periodic reporting requirements. The CIA Student Complaint Policy does not govern Student complaints about grades or Student conduct; these are governed by the Student Code of Conduct and academic policies.


    Complaint: A written allegation made by a currently enrolled or former Student alleging that the CIA has violated a law, regulation, accreditation standard or requirement, CIA policy, or SARA policy, standard or requirement.

    Complainant: A currently enrolled or former Student who files a Complaint.

    Degree Programs Operating Council (DPOC): A cross-functional body charged with the coordination and operational management of the Student experience at the CIA.

    Distance Education: Instruction offered by any means where the student and faculty member are in separate physical locations. It includes, but is not limited to, online, interactive video and correspondence courses or programs. For SARA purposes, Distance Education includes limited activities conducted for short periods with students and faculty in the same location, such as short residencies.

    Employee: See definition in the CIA Policy on Policies.

    NC-SARA: National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, the oversight body for SARA participating states and institutions.

    Policy: Organization-wide directives that mandate requirements of, or provisions for, members of the CIA community, including procedures to assist with their implementation that are created and adopted in accordance with the CIA Policy on Policies, current Student Handbook and College Catalog.

    Policy Owner: The Cabinet Member who has direct responsibility for oversight of the CIA Policy.

    Portal Entity: The state agency or other state body designated by each SARA member state to serve as the interstate point of contact for SARA questions, complaints and other communications. The CIA’s Portal Entity is the New York State Department of Education.

    Procedure: A series of action steps related to a policy that specifies how a particular process should be completed. Procedures include information on who, what, when, and where of the policy.

    SARA: State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, a voluntary agreement among its member states and U.S. territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance-education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. The CIA is a member organization of NC-SARA, and its home state of New York is a member state of NC-SARA. As of the current version of this Student Complaint Policy, all 49 states, excluding California, participate in SARA. SARA applies solely to distance education activity across state lines. SARA has established its own complaint-resolution policies and procedures for use by Students.

    Student: See definition in the CIA Policy on Policies.


    The following processes are available for handling Student Complaints that are not covered elsewhere by CIA policies and procedures, such as complaints about sexual harassment, discrimination, grades or student conduct matters.

    The processes set forth below should be approached sequentially, beginning with Step 1.

    Step 1: Informal Resolution

    A Student wishing to have a Complaint addressed must first seek an informal resolution by engaging in a dialogue with the appropriate CIA Employee.

    Step 2: Formal Process

    A currently enrolled or former Student wishing to submit a Complaint must submit it in writing, using the online CIA Hot Line if possible. If a Complainant does not have access to the Internet, the written Complaint should be marked Confidential and addressed to:

    The Culinary Institute of America
    Director of Compliance
    1946 Campus Drive
    Hyde Park, NY 12538
    Fax: 845-905-1098

    All submissions must include:

    1. A written description of the specific problem, issue, or situation that led to the Complaint;
    2. A reference to the law, regulation, policy, standard, or requirement allegedly violated;
    3. A summary of steps taken towards resolution of the matter with the appropriate CIA administrator; and
    4. Additional supporting documentation if applicable.

    The Director of Compliance will review all submissions for completeness and may in his/her discretion meet with the Complainant and/or relevant individuals to address any questions regarding the information submitted by the Complainant or to request missing information.

    If it is determined that the Complainant has not completed Step One of the Student Complaint process under this policy, the Director of Compliance will advise the Complainant in writing on about appropriate steps to follow to attempt to resolve the matter informally.

    The Director of Compliance will present all complete submissions to the Provost of the CIA and the Chair of DPOC for review. At this stage, the Director of Compliance will notify the Complainant in writing that the Complaint is under investigation and review.

    Upon investigation and review, if the provost and the Chair of DPOC determine that the Complaint is unsubstantiated and/or does not involve a violation under this Policy, the determination will be documented, the Complaint will be closed and the CIA Hot Line database updated by the Director of Compliance.

    Upon investigation and review, if the Provost and the Chair of DPOC determine that the Complaint is substantiated, reasonable steps will be developed to address the finding.

    Any changes to a CIA Policy must go through the process found within the CIA Policy on Policies.

    The Director of Compliance will attempt to notify the Complainant of the results of the Complaint in writing within 60 business days of initial receipt of the Complaint.

    The Director of Compliance will enter the appropriate resolution of the matter in the CIA Hot Line database and will close the case.

    The Provost at his/her sole discretion may overturn the outcome and/or sanction if it is deemed that the conclusion may have been altered by the findings identified by DPOC and/or the working group charged with researching the allegations contained in the Complaint.

    Step 3: Formal Processes Beyond the CIA

    Students who wish to pursue their Complaint beyond the outcome achieved through Step 2 or who are not able to file a Complaint with the school, may file a Complaint with one or more of the following entities:

    1. Middle States Commission on Higher Education: www.msche.org/complaints.
    2. New York Campus and New York Residents: See Appendix I to this policy for non-Distance Education Student Complaints.
    3. California Campus and California Residents: See Appendix II to this policy.
    4. Texas Campus and Texas Residents: See Appendix III to this policy.
    5. List of State Offices for Students Residing Outside of New York State: www2.ed.gov/about/contacts/state/index.html.
    6. Students in Foreign Additional Locations and Singapore Branch Campus: The processes are the same as for the New York campus.

    Student Complaint Processes for Online MPS Students

    Students in the online Master’s of Professional Studies program, except those living in California, wishing to pursue a complaint about the online MPS program must first follow the usual CIA Student Complaint Policy. In the event that the Complainant is not satisfied with the outcome, a complaint (excluding those about grades or student conduct matters) may be appealed within two years of the incident to the SARA Portal Entity in the CIA’s home state of New York at the following:

    Supervisor, Higher Education Programs
    New York State Education Department
    89 Washington Avenue
    Albany, NY 12234

    Students of the online MPS program who are California residents may file a complaint with the California Department of Consumer Affairs:


    California Department of Consumer Affairs
    Consumer Information Center
    1625 North Market Street, N-112
    Sacramento, CA 95834

  • Contact Us

    The Culinary Institute of America
    1946 Campus Drive
    Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499
    Phone: 845-452-9600