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Valley City State University is fully committed to operating in compliance with all federal and state laws and with all Department of Education and HLC mandates. VCSU monitors legislative and administrative activity at both the state and federal levels and implements policies and procedures accordingly. The University relies on numerous sources of information and support including the ND University System, the US Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission, and various professional organizations.

CREDITS, PROGRAM LENGTH, AND TUITION

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Valley City State University operates on an academic calendar using the semester system, and follows the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education calendar policy 406.1 for length of term. One semester hour of credit represents one academic hour (50 minutes) of class instruction or two or more academic hours of laboratory work per week for a period of 15 weeks (excluding exam week). This explanation of a credit hour and the academic calendar is published in the 2010-2012 Catalog and the Student Handbook.

The Academic Policy and Affairs Committee revised the VCSU Attendance Policy V605.15 during Summer 2011, to include this explanation of the credit hour and further expectations for study related to the number of credits carried in a student load. This policy will be reviewed by Faculty Senate and the University Policy Committee in Fall 2011. A minimum of 120 semester hours are required for graduation with a bachelor's degree; the number of required hours for the Master's of Education degree ranges by concentration from 32 to 37 semester hours. Tuition rates are consistent across degree programs, and vary by residency status, except for the Clinical Practice program (which prepares K-12 teachers who already have non-teaching degrees) - this program receives grant support from the state to off-set some of the program costs and therefore charges a lower tuition rate. Please see the tuition rate schedule in the Resource Room for tuition rates by residency.

STUDENT COMPLAINTS

Given the size of the campus, and the ease of personal one-on-one access to administrators and faculty, most student complaints are handled promptly and informally through the administrative structure of the University. Student concerns or complaints about academic matters, including grades, instruction, course work, degree programs, graduation requirements, and transcripts typically begin in the appropriate academic area. Students may address their complaints directly to staff, instructors, department heads, division chairs and ultimately the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the President. Student complaints about non-academic matters such as enrollment services, residence life, judicial affairs, financial aid, and others may be filed through the appropriate administrative office.

The VCSU Student Handbook outlines a number of formal policies and procedures in place to handle student complaints that are not resolved informally.
  • A Student Grievance Committee hears formal grievances which are defined as: A statement expressing complaint, resentment, or accusation about a university circumstance which is thought by the student to be unfair or inappropriate.
  • The University Hearings and Appeals Board is established for the purpose of providing an avenue of final appeal of a decision by a university official or by an established university committee.
  • A formal Grade Complaint Policy ensures that students have protection through orderly procedures against prejudiced or capricious academic evaluation.
  • The University Judicial Council exists for students that wish to appeal a student conduct decision made by the VPSA.
  • The VCSU Student Code of Conduct, the VCSU Sex Offense Policy, and the VCSU Sexual Harassment Policy each provide specific instructions on how to file a complaint against another member of the campus community.
All of these committees have broad campus representation with memberships consisting of administrators, faculty, staff and students.

Very few formal written student complaints are received by senior administrators. Examples of recent cases were a formal student petition to the VPSA regarding the condition of some furniture in a residence hall. The result of the petition was the approval to purchase new furniture, and the formation of a student committee to make selections and oversee the installation of new furniture. In another recent case, the Student Senate passed a formal resolution regarding recent campus security issues and forwarded the resolution and their concerns to the president and vice presidents. As a result, a meeting between several administrators, including the president, and a group of student senators was scheduled. Results of that meeting were the repair of several doors, an increase in the number of security cameras, and the formation of a student campus security committee.

There also exists a process by which students can make anonymous complaints. VCSU uses a Comment Card System that allows any member of the campus community to make anonymous comments, suggestions or complaints. A comment card box is located on the main floor of McFarland Hall, the Student Center and near the IT Help Desk. The boxes are checked regularly and each card is read, forwarded as necessary and kept on file in the office of the VPSA.

TRANSFER POLICIES

As a member campus of the North Dakota University System, VCSU is obligated by SBHE transfer policies, including transfer of general education credit between NDUS campuses. These policies are described on the NDUS Articulation and Transfer website and are governed by SBHE Policy 403.7.

VCSU accepts transfer credit from regionally accredited institutions of postsecondary education. Transfer credit from nationally accredited institutions may be reviewed and accepted on a course by course basis.

The application of transfer credit to program requirements is the responsibility of the faculty; students who are dissatisfied with course equivalency determinations may consult with the appropriate Division Chair in an attempt to more precisely define the equivalencies.

Total hours earned from all transfer institutions are entered on the VCSU transcript. If necessary, credits will be converted to semester hours. Grades from transfer courses are used in calculating the cumulative grade point average.

The transfer policy is detailed in the 2010-2012 Catalog (page 36).

VERIFICATION OF STUDENT IDENTITY

VCSU uses the Blackboard Learning Management System to deliver all online and hybrid course materials. In order to assure student identity and proper access, all students registered at VCSU receive a secure login and password.

TITLE IV PROGRAM and RELATED RESPONSIBILITIES

1. General Program Responsibilities

Valley City State University received its most recent Program Participation Agreement (PPA) on May 5, 2009. VCSU is declared an eligible institution under the Higher Education Act of 1965.

The PPA provides for VCSU's eligibility to participate the following programs:
  • Federal Pell Grant Program
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant Program
  • Federal Work Study Program
  • Federal Direct Lending Program
  • Perkins Program
  • Teach Grant Program
There have been no Title IV program reviews, inspections or audits during the time period since the last accreditation review. VCSU is not subject to any program limitations, suspensions or terminations.

2. Financial Responsibility Requirements

The North Dakota University System, including the central office and eleven campuses, are included in the North Dakota Statewide Single Audit. Audit procedures are performed annually by the State Auditor's Office at the campuses to inform and complete the Statewide Single Audit.

The Statewide Single Audit was conducted in accordance with auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America; the standards applicable to financial audits contained in Government Auditing Standards, issued by the Comptroller General of the United States; and Circular A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations. The State's Single Audit report for fiscal year ended June 2010 was dated March 28, 2011. (http://www.nd.gov/auditor/reports/sa_10.pdf)

VCSU received no findings or questioned costs for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

Financial ratios are one tool VCSU relies upon to assess its effective use of financial resources to achieve its mission. The Department of Education has not raised any concerns regarding the University's Composite Financial Indicators (CFI), and neither has the Higher Learning Commission. The most recent total CFI scores are
2010
Generally, a CFI score greater than 1.1 for public institutions puts the institution in a "no review" category.
In addition to the CFI ratios, the North Dakota University System prepares an annual financial review of each campus using standard ratios and other agreed upon data. The 2010 Financial Review demonstrates continued strengthening of VCSU's financial status. The summary report for fiscal year 2010 states "VCSU's financial position has improved since 2007 and the majority of their ratios are good. Enrollment has steadily increased every year since 2007." The only item of concern pointed out in the report is the level of deferred maintenance.

3. Default Rates

The following chart discloses the student loan default rate for Valley City State University for the past six years. The VCSU default rate is consistently lower than the national average and is very comparable to peer institutions in the ND University System.
Default Rates
4. Campus Crime Information and Related Disclosure of Consumer Information

The University's Annual Campus Safety and Security Report, as mandated by the Clery Act, are provided by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. Included in the report are policies on campus security, timely warnings, sex offenses, missing persons, emergency notification, and statistics concerning the occurrence of crimes on campus. Included in the report are campus fire safety procedures and fire logs as well as the campus Drug Free School Policies. The information is distributed annually to all faculty and staff and each semester to new students. The Annual Campus Security Report and Fire Safety Report can also be found online at
http://www.vcsu.edu/cmsfile/139/CampusSecurityFireSafetyReport.pdf

5. Satisfactory Academic Progress and Attendance Policies
Satisfactory Progress Policy
To ensure compliance with these regulations, the following policy governing standards of satisfactory progress for all students attending Valley City State University who apply for financial aid is in effect: Students must be in good academic standing and must be making satisfactory progress toward the completion of a degree. Students who fail to meet these standards of satisfactory progress will be ineligible to receive finial aid until eligibility has been reestablished.
The following measures have been established as grade point average standards indicating satisfactory progress toward a degree:
  • At the conclusion of the first semester - 1.60 cum GPA required
  • At the conclusion of the second semester - 1.80 cum GPA required
  • At the conclusion of the third semester - 2.00 GPA required.
To maintain satisfactory progress a student is also required to complete a minimum of 66% of the credit hours attempted each academic term. The Financial Aid Office performs a qualitative and quantitative review of all academic records each term. Students failing to meet minimal standards are declared ineligible for financial aid. Students may re-establish eligibility by meeting minimal standards.

Class Attendance Policy
The Class Attendance and Faculty Reporting of Student Absence policies can be found in the VCSU Policy Manual and the VCSU Student Handbook.
  • Policy V530.8 Student Attendance Policy sets out expectations for students to participate in all class sessions for which they are registered and refers to faculty policy V605.15 which identifies faculty requirements for reporting student absences.
  • Policy V605.15 Reporting of Student Absences requires faculty to comply with federal regulations related to satisfactory academic progress, reporting last day of attendance and timely reporting of students experiencing academic difficulties. The policy indicates the expectation to report students not reporting to class by the second week of the term and to report mid-term deficiencies. Instructions on submitting final grades and notating the last day of attendance are also included in V605.15.
6. Contractual Relationships

Not applicable to Valley City State University.

7. Consortial Relationships

Dakota College at Bottineau (DCB) and VCSU began a 3+1 program in Fisheries and Wildlife Science in 2004, which allows students to stay on the DCB campus for the third year of their program. Coursework for the program is delivered by faculty at DCB and VCSU over IVN to students at both campuses. DCB faculty deliver three courses (Botany II, Range Management, and Water Resource Management), a total of 12 credits in the 66 credit major. Dakota College at Bottineau is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

INSTITUTIONAL DISCLOSURES and ADVERSTISING AND RECRUITMENT MATERIALS

Reference to Valley City State University's affiliation with the Higher Learning Commission is listed in the printed and online versions of the University Catalog. The accreditation statement is also found on the VCSU website, the Viewbook, and in the Baselines publication. Included in the statement is contact information for the Higher Learning Commission.

RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER ACCREDITING AGENCIES AND WITH STATE REGULATORY BODIES

Valley City State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). As part of its NCATE accreditation review, the School of Education and Graduate Studies programs are evaluated by the North Dakota Education Practices and Standards Board, which licenses teachers in North Dakota. The Community School of the Arts is a certified member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education. VCSU is also a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

PUBLIC NOTIFICATION OF COMPREHENSIVE EVALUATION VISIT and THIRD PARTY COMMENT

The primary constituencies of the University include alumni, public school educators, regional business and industry, and the local community. The Alumni Bulletin, which is widely distributed among these groups, published the Third Party Comment notice in its Spring and Summer 2011 editions. VCSU's local Accreditation website posted the notice during Summer 2011, as well; it can be viewed at
http://www.vcsu.edu/academicaffairs/vp.htm?p=2344

In addition, three newspapers serve the region and a large number of VCSU's constituents: The Valley City Times-Record, the Jamestown Sun, and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. The Times-Record, whose readership is primarily Barnes County, ran the third party comment notice three times in August; the Jamestown Sun, with readers primarily in neighboring Stutsman County ran the notice once in August; and the Forum, which covers neighboring Cass County and the Fargo area, ran the notice once in August. To conserve finances, the notice was run as a legal notice in the Forum; the other two newspapers and the campus-generated publications ran the notice as a 3x5 inch block advertisement.

The Valley City Chamber of Commerce also ran the request for public comment in their July and August newsletters.

These six methods of disseminating information appear to reach a broad range of the University's public constituencies. Copies of all the published notices are available in the Resource Room.