Topic: Distance/Online Education


Distance Learning Policy Lab

The SREB Distance Learning Policy Laboratory assists states with distance learning projects and outreach to students. SREB also brings together states’ education agencies to share ideas and marketing activities through the Go Alliance.

A current focus is helping states respond to changes in federal regulations that require institutions with online programs to have approval in states where they enroll students. SREB is working closely with states to monitor changes and to promote reciprocal agreements, which have been in place since the creation of the Electronic Campus. SREB’s “free trade zone” will be a model for other regions as new regulations are enacted. Regional Reciprocity for Online Courses from SREB institutions in participating states. SREB’s Electronic Campus Regional Reciprocity Agreement (SECRRA) has been a model for other regions. Now, SREB-state institutions will be able to participate in a new, nationwide system of reciprocity, the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). When it is operational, SARA will allow participating institutions to be authorized by their home state and eliminate the need for individual approvals in all of the states where they serve online students. This will open more high-quality online offerings for students and ease regulatory burden on individual institutions. Additional information on SREB’s participation in the national State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) can be found on the SREB SARA page. Institutions can find participation information on the Electronic Campus Institutional Data Entry page

The Board approved the establishment of a Distance Learning Policy Laboratory to support SREB’s technology initiatives by focusing on significant policy barriers in distance learning. The Policy Laboratory began its work in 1999 with support from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and the Stranahan Foundation. 

A Leadership Group of nationally recognized leaders in higher education, a state partner’s network, and more than 100 administrators, faculty and distance learning experts launched the Policy Laboratory’s work with the publication of Seven detailed reports on key policy, with more than 70 recommendations to colleges and universities, states and SREB. 

The Policy Laboratory focused on three overarching themes in distance learning:

  • Increase access
  • Improve and ensure quality
  • Drive down costs
Blog post September 2015 Commission meeting

Part-Time Students = 38% of Undergrads
Affordability Commission focuses on needs of adult and part-time students

Part-time college students made up 38 percent of undergraduates in SREB states by 2013. Many part-time students work to pay their living expenses as well as tuition, and the more hours they work, the longer it takes them to finish, on average. Part-timers are eligible for less financial aid, and they tend to file later, missing early deadlines.