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The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA): A Good Idea Whose Time Has Come


Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning Volume 46, Number 3, ISSN 0009-1383


In this article the authors argue that states need a new way to oversee the delivery of postsecondary distance education across state borders. They assert that the current process is too spotty to assure consistent consumer protection and too cumbersome and expensive for institutions. Because education is not specified in the US Constitution as a federal responsibility, that role falls primarily to the states. The states play it in many ways, of course, but the key issue for this article is that each state has independently developed its own processes for authorizing postsecondary institutions that operate within its borders. Thousands of postsecondary institutions must address the authorization requirements of as many as 54 states and territories--and, in some locales, multiple regulatory agencies. That process is inefficient, costly, and ineffective in supporting access to high-quality, affordable distance education throughout the country. This article suggests an effective means of dealing with these inconsistent standards would be a comprehensive national approach that would serve all interested states, accommodate all sectors of higher education, support quality, and retain the ability to deal with any institutions that abuse the system. Topics discussed herein include: (1) The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA); (2) Regional Compacts; (3) Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (2011); (4) The Implementation of SARA; (5) The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA); (6) State Participation in SARA (including the benefits to states, institutions, and students); (7) Foundational Principles of SARA; and (8) Issues SARA does not address.


Longanecker, D. & Hill, M.A. (2014). The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA): A Good Idea Whose Time Has Come. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 46(3), 45-52. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from .

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