State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement

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Federal regulations published in late 2010 reminded institutions that if they wish to offer academic programs and courses in any modality, including online delivery, to students residing in another state they must obtain approval from the state in which the student resides. The regulation specified that states could enter into reciprocal agreements for such purposes. This prompted the MHEC Executive Committee to approve a voluntary agreement among participating MHEC member states at its June 2013 meeting.  The agreement established comparable state authorization standards for interstate offerings of postsecondary distance education courses and programs.

The Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA) was developed by an advisory committee appointed by MHEC President Larry Isaak and included representation from all 12 states of the Compact. Similar agreements have been approved by all four regional higher education compacts to tie them together into an inter-regional agreement overseen by a National Council, thereby creating a nationwide framework for interstate reciprocity and simplifying the state authorization process for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs.

SARA’s implementation was funded by grants from Lumina Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; it is now funded by fees paid by institutions.

The M-SARA Regional Steering Committee (RSC) evaluates and determines whether states’ applications to participate in M-SARA demonstrate adequate capacity and sufficient standards for authorization and oversight of institutions under the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). In collaboration with the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) and National Council for State Authorization Agreements (NC-SARA), the Regional Steering Committee establishes and disseminates criteria for state participation and amends such criteria, as appropriate, over time.

For more information contact Jenny Parks, M-SARA director, or Emily Jacobson, M-SARA coordinator.