Michigan is tenth state approved for participation in Midwestern-State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement

Posted: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 08:54

Minneapolis, MN — Michigan was approved by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) as the tenth state to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA) by MHEC’s Executive Committee. Michigan joins Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Ohio. Nationally, Michigan is the 29th 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.

“The State of Michigan is pleased to join the SARA initiative as it will expand and enhance educational opportunities for our citizens,” said Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Chief Deputy Shelly Edgerton. It will enable all of our postsecondary institutions to focus on providing quality and affordable educational opportunities.”

Edgerton further states that “this has been a very collaborative process and we are pleased to be working with the bill sponsor, Senator Tonya Schuitmaker and the higher education associations: Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan, the Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities, and  the Michigan Community College Association.”

LARA will serve as the state “portal” agency for Michigan and as the single point of contact for all Michigan institutions participating in SARA. LARA’s Corporations, Securities and Commercial Licensing bureau has had the oversight responsibility of approving new and expanding non- public colleges, universities and trade schools to operate within Michigan. As a member of the reciprocity agreement, LARA will also be working with Michigan’s public colleges and universities. Prior to Michigan gaining acceptance into the reciprocity agreement, distance education providers not located within the state of Michigan were not required to register or seek approval to offer courses by distance education to Michigan residents. LARA had received more than 1,100 inquiries from out of state institutions requesting approval or exemption to offer distance education to Michigan residents.

“As a state with a decentralized system of higher education, stakeholders from all sectors came together to designate a portal agency and empower it to serve the reciprocity needs of Michigan’s institutions,” indicated Larry Isaak, MHEC president. “Theirs is a unique configuration that is streamlined and efficient, which will benefit the most students and institutions in the state with the least amount of cost and effort.”

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. Member states are: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

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.