US Department of Education Receives Testimony About SARA

The US Dept. of Education recently announced a series of public hearings to solicit comments on a host of topics, including, but not limited to:

 

  • State Authorization
  • Gainful employment;
  • Credit Hour Conversions; and
  • Campus Safety.

The first of these hearings occurred May 21 in Washington, DC.  In the course of the discussion Department officials received considerable testimony about state authorization, including the difficulties of complying with varying state authorization requirements for institutions wishing to offer degree programs in multiple states.  During the testimony there was considerable support for The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and other forms of interstate compacts that would allow states to govern distance learning short of federal regulations. 

SARA was developed as a joint effort between the Presidents’ Forum, the Council of State Governments, the Commission on Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education, and the four regional higher education compacts.  The agreement is intended to streamline the process for states and institution wishing to engage in distance education in an effort to increase student access and degree attainment.  SARA establishes minimum standards for state and intuitional participation and shifts the responsibility of authorization to the home state of the institution.  While the establishment of uniform minimum standards and the shift in institutional approval represents a significant change in the traditional delivery model for distance learning programs, institutions, states, and students could benefit substantially if consensus can be achieved.  To learn more about SARA please click here.