CSG to Highlight SARA Twice Next Week

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) will be highlighted at CSG’s Eastern Regional Conference in Baltimore and again at CSG’s Annual meeting in Anchorage.  The session in Baltimore will begin at 1:15 PM on Tuesday, August 5 and the session in Anchorage will take place at 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 10th.  Both presentations are intended to inform policymakers about the new agreement and the potential benefits it can offer both states and institutions. 

Attendees will hear about the need for the agreement, the development process, the specific areas covered by SARA, what steps states and institutions need to take to participate, and SARA’s legislative progress during the 2014 session.    

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 Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).  Over the course of the last two years the different organizations have worked to promote a unified and effective framework that would allow institutions to more easily offer distance learning courses across state lines, while promoting student interests and consumer protection.

Some of the essential components of SARA include the following:

  • Participation in the agreement is entirely voluntary for states and institutions;
  • The state in which an institution offering an online program is located will regulate the institution's online offerings nationally and serve as the home state;
  • Each home state that agrees to participate in SARA will be responsible for ensuring participating institutions meet quality standards;
  • Each member state will agree to accept similar assurances from other participating states; and
  • The home state will use their existing structure for authorizing institutions. Participation in the agreement does not require the creation of a new authorizing structure.

Efforts to implement SARA are already under way.  Each of the existing higher education regional compacts is assisting their member states in ensuring that states wishing to participate in the agreement meet the necessary requirements to join. The Presidents’ Forum and The Council of State Governments, as part of a grant from the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation, are supporting these efforts through the development of education materials and sessions intended to help policymakers and institutions understand the goals of SARA.