SARA Continues Making Progress in the States
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement has now been approved in nine states, with eight of those states already approving institutional participation in the agreement. Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, and Washington have already joined SARA. The existing higher education regional compacts are actively assisting their member states in ensuring that states wishing to participate in the agreement meet the necessary requirements to join.
SARA is intended to simplify and streamline the process for authorizing online degree programs across state lines. By doing so the agreement aims to increase access to degree attainment and reduce costs for students, states, and institutions. Participation in SARA is voluntary for states and institutions. In order to participate states must:
- Have the appropriate laws, policies, practices, and processes for authorizing all accredited postsecondary education institutions that operate within their borders. In most cases this will require legislative and statutory change; and
- Have reasonable processes for monitoring authorized institutions and for handling complaints or concerns that are raised concerning those institutions.
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 three 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.
For more information about SARA please visit www.nc-sara.org.