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Reciprocity (SARA)

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Reciprocal Agreements

Reciprocal agreements are the most promising way to ease the burdens of state institutional approvals.

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) establishes national standards for interstate offering of distance-education courses and programs plus standards for other activities including, but not limited to: experiential learning, recruiting, and marketing in a state other than the home state of the institution. SARA standards apply only in SARA states for institutions that “operate under” or “participate in” SARA.

It is very important to note that SARA participation does not cover any institution responsibilities for other state laws and regulations or to other state agencies in another state beyond the requirements for institutional approval for the higher education agency. (ex. State Professional Boards, Dept. of Taxation, State Secretary of State, or Dept. of Labor)

SARA Manual - State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements Policy and Operations Manual

Institutions must remember to update Institution SARA Contact Information to NC-SARA, Regional Director, and State Portal Entity when there is a change of staffing at the institution.

Key NC-SARA Webpages

Applications - Institutional approval and renewal, State application and renewal, C-RAC Guidelines, NC-SARA W-9 form.

Data Information - To find reporting dates, data sharing agreement, sample placement reporting matrix.

SARA Manual -  Location to find the most recent Manual plus other handbooks.

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Important Aspects of SARA
  • SARA is an agreement among member states, districts, and territories. 
  • States join SARA through their respective regional compact (MHEC, NHEBE, SREB, WICHE).
  • States must renew their membership to SARA every other year.
  • State membership is voluntary – not all states are members.
  • Oversight of the institution is by the “home state” of the institution offering the instruction. The host state (where the student is located) can also work to resolve problems.
  • Institutions apply to their state to “operate under” or “participate in” SARA.
  • Institutions must pay an annual fee to NC-SARA to participate. (Some states require an additional fee to the state)
  • Institutions must renew their participation with their state on an annual basis.
  • SARA provides reciprocity compliance for many out of state activities of the institution, but not all. 
  • SARA Manual is available to be downloaded.

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May 2022 eNewsletter

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Reciprocity (SARA)