NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments supports the establishment of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and encourages its member jurisdictions to consider the new interstate agreement as an innovative policy solution that will increase degree attainment and reduce costs for students, states, and institutions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments staff will provide ongoing assistance to the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements’ national office and the four regional higher education compacts in their efforts to raise awareness about SARA.

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is intended to broaden the availability of—and access to—accredited online degree programs by reducing state regulatory barriers while ensuring strong consumer safeguards. The agreement is finalized and states are starting to participate. This session provided an update on progress of the agreement, as well as a discussion about what your state needs to do to become a member.

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At the start of the 2012-13 school year, online enrollment accounted for more than one-third of total enrollment at the nation’s degree-granting postsecondary institutions. Ten years prior, it made up less than 10 percent, according to enrollment trends tracked by the Babson Survey Research Group.

On April 22, the Supreme Court issued a decision in one of the biggest cases of the term. And that case might affect your state today—or could affect it soon.  In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action the Supreme Court held 6-2 that voters may by ballot prohibit affirmative action in public universities admission decisions.

As NCSL’s Affirmative Action:  State Action chart describes, a number of states prohibit the use of affirmative action in a variety of contexts.  While this case was limited to the use of race in public university admission decisions, Michigan’s constitutional amendment also prohibits the use of racial-preference in state and local employment and contracting.  Presumably, these provisions are also constitutional. 

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Two years ago, a class of college students at Portland State University in Oregon came up with an alternative way of paying for college — an idea they called “Pay it Forward.” It has quickly attracted nationwide attention, including in some of the Midwest’s state legislatures.

On Monday, the Tennessee Senate expressed their approval for the Veterans Education Transition Support Act, or Tennessee VETS ACT, by a 30-0 vote.  If the House also approves military veterans could attend state public colleges and universities at the in-state tuition rate.

The country needs a comprehensive national authorization and regulatory model for long-distance education that will serve all interested states, accommodate all sectors of higher education and support quality, Paul Shiffman, executive director of The Presidents’ Forum, said Friday.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon sees education’s role in economic development as plain and simple.

“Education is, quite simply, the best economic development tool there is,” he said during Friday’s opening session, “Postsecondary Education for the 21st Century.” “As we look to a future in which two-thirds of occupations will require a college degree, we must intensify our efforts to ensure that students have access to higher education.”

State policymakers can learn more about a compact to streamline the process for authorizing online degree programs across state lines during The Council of State Governments’ 2013 National Conference in Kansas City from 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 20. Drafters of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, or SARA as the agreement is called, hope it will increase access to degree attainment and reduce costs for students, states and institutions.

The longer a student takes to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree, the more it costs both the student and taxpayers. Fewer than half of all students entering four-year universities in 2003 and 2004 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 48 months or less. The Center for College Affordability and Reliability reports the public sector would save $7.5 billion each year if all students graduated on time.

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