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Making the Grade: What Arizona College Students Need to Know about Grade Appeals

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How to appeal your grade at an Arizona university

For many students, earning good grades and maintaining a high GPA are key to obtaining and maintaining opportunities such as scholarships, internships, and job offers in competitive industries. Unfortunately, receiving an unexpectedly low or failing grade can have serious consequences, including limiting a student’s scholarships and job opportunities, extending the time it takes a to graduate, and in some cases, placing the student on academic probation or dismissal. Moreover, a student’s academic record can follow them long after graduation as employers and licensing authorities often request copies of a candidate's transcripts as a condition of employment and/or licensure in various fields.

In short, it behooves students who believe they have unfairly received low or failing grades to appeal those grades. Although all situations are different, there are certain general steps students should take when appealing a grade.

1. Gather Evidence

It’s important to gather all supporting evidence. For example, if there is a dispute as to whether the student submitted all assignments, completed exams, etc., the student will need to gather all evidence documenting their work in the course.

2. Consult with the Professor

In some situations, simply speaking with the professor who issued the grade may be sufficient to resolve a dispute. While this is not always the case, it is always best to first address the issue with the professor to determine whether the grade resulted from a mistake or misunderstanding.

3. Research Grade Appeal Procedures

If the issue remains unresolved after discussing it with the professor, the student will need to investigate their options. Most schools have specific procedures outlining the process for appealing grades. Because some universities have instituted very short deadlines for submitting appeals, it is important to timely research the procedures. Failure to comply with the school’s procedures may preclude the student from successfully appealing their grades.

4. Seek Assistance

An education law attorney will help the student navigate appeal procedures and create an effective strategy before submitting an appeal. Additionally, an attorney will also identify what the student’s legal rights are in the event an appeal fails along with any other potentially viable legal claims the student may have.


About the Author: Alden Thomas is a partner at Jaburg Wilk who primarily practices in the areas of education and employment law. She assists students with grade appeals, discrimination claims, and honor code violations, and residency petitions and appeals.