Academic Appeals

What is an academic appeal?

An academic appeal is a procedure that permits a university or college to review a decision relating to your academic progress. It is used to resolve conflicts that arise when students report academic dissatisfaction or unfairness at a higher education institution. The option to appeal, or make a complaint, exists in the majority of schools nationwide. However, complainants are only recommended to submit an appeal when they can provide evidence that justifies their need for one.

Types of academic appeals

There are a variety of academic appeals that may be submitted for review:

  • Grade appeals;
  • Probation appeals;
  • Academic suspension appeals; and
  • Academic dismissal appeals

Grounds for an academic appeal

Students cannot appeal an academic decision merely because they are displeased or do not agree with one. They have to provide a valid reason, or grounds, in order for a school to adhere to their complaint. In most schools, there are only two permissible grounds for an appeal: improper conduct and extenuating circumstances. A student must prove that at least one, if not both, are applicable in their case.

Improper conduct

Students appeal on this ground when coursework mistakes have been made by school staff or academic guidelines have been incorrectly applied in your cases. Errors that occurred during the setting and grading of an exam, attendance, an essay or any other forms of marked work count as grounds for improper conduct, as well as the decision to put you on suspension or dismiss you from a particular degree program. 

Figuring out whether or not this ground applies in your situation may be difficult. But the advice of a legal professional can help steer you in the right direction.

Extenuating circumstances

Students appeal on this ground in cases when unpredictable events occur in their lives that hinder academic progression. This could be a range of situations, ranging from a death in the family, to a sickness that you acquired that kept you out of school. As long as this situation has had an adverse effect on your academic performance, it may be considered an extenuating circumstance.

However, before an appeal is granted, a student must determine if their extenuating circumstances will be validated and possibly elaborate on a few details to ensure they are. It's important to note that the circumstance mentioned in an appeal must be one that the university or college was not already aware of. For example, let's say you get a deadline moved back due to an illness you acquired. You can no longer use this illness as the basis of a successive appeal.

In cases when an appeal is submitted weeks or months after these extenuating circumstances occurred, a student will likely have to explain why they waited so long to inform the university of your condition. If you missed an exam due to a family crisis, for example, it is common for students to inform their professor around the time it is occurring. If you can't provide a convincing reason as to why you chose not to, a school will not grant an appeal.

Pennsylvania & New Jersey Student Rights Attorney

A failed class, a suspension, probation or a dismissal is devastating when you have invested tens of thousands of dollars into your education. When your college or university makes a decision that you believe is unfounded, you have every right to appeal that decision. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented a wide range of students in all stages of their educational journey, from undergraduate students to masters and doctoral students, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide. Contact him today to maximize your chances of being granted an appeal.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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