Illinois is ninth state approved for participation in Midwestern-State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement

Posted: Friday, July 31, 2015 - 04:00

Minneapolis, MN — Late this afternoon Illinois was approved by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) as the ninth state to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA). Illinois joins Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Ohio. Nationally, Illinois is the 28th state to join the agreement.

SARA is a nationwide initiative of states that will make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and make it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education. The effort is funded by a $3 million grant from Lumina Foundation, a $200,000 grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and fees paid by institutions.

“Illinois’ adoption of the SARA process to approve quality distance learning opportunities for Illinois students who desire to use distance education to achieve their college degrees is an important step. SARA not only serves students by ensuring quality courses, but also helps Illinois colleges and universities to provide access to useful online courses to students around the nation,” said James Applegate, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.  “Expanding delivery of college degrees is a priority as Illinois strives to increase the number of Illinoisans with college credentials and degrees to 60% by 2025.”

The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) will serve as the state “portal” agency and as the single point of contact for all Illinois institutions participating in SARA. The Illinois Community College Board will determine eligibility for Illinois’ community colleges. All public universities and independent institutions will be determined eligible by IBHE.  Institutional participation applications will be accepted by IBHE immediately. Additional information about SARA is available on IBHE’s website at

“Illinois is the largest state, to date, to join SARA,” said Larry Isaak, MHEC president. “We are very pleased that Illinois institutions will now be able to participate in SARA and more efficiently offer their programs to other states’ citizens, and as well that Illinois citizens will expand their access to broader higher education opportunities.”

About NC-SARA, MHEC, NEBHE, SREB, WICHE and Lumina Foundation

The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. The initiative is administered by the country’s four regional higher education compacts (MHEC, NEBHE, SREB and WICHE) and overseen by NC-SARA. States and institutions that choose to participate agree to operate under common standards and procedures, providing a more uniform and less costly regulatory environment for institutions, more focused oversight responsibilities for states and better resolution of student complaints.

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact is a nonprofit regional organization assisting Midwestern states in advancing higher education through interstate cooperation and resource sharing. MHEC seeks to fulfill its interstate mission through programs that expand postsecondary opportunity and success; promote inno¬vative approaches to improving institutional and system productivity; improve affordability to students and states; and enhance connectivity between higher education and the workplace. Member states are: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The New England Board of Higher Education promotes greater educational opportunities and services for the residents of New England. It works across the six New England states to engage and assist leaders in the assessment, development, and implementation of sound education practices and policies of regional significance; promote policies, programs, and best practices to assist the states in implementing important regional higher education policies; promote regional cooperation and programs that encourage the efficient use and sharing of educational resources; and provide leadership to strengthen the relationship between higher education and the economic well-being of New England.

The Southern Regional Education Board works with 16 member states to improve public educa-tion at every level, from pre-K through Ph.D. SREB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Atlanta. SREB states currently participate in SREB’s Electronic Campus Regional Reciprocity Agreement, and SREB is working closely with SARA to expand reciprocity nationwide. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and its 16 members work collabora-tively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy among states and institutions, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. WICHE’s members include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the first of the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states to participate).

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina’s outcomes-based approach focuses on helping to design and build an accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025.