Florida Joins Distance Ed Agreement


SARA collaboration among states expands online options for students, reduces costs for institutions

The state of Florida was approved by the Southern Regional Education Board to join the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in August 2017. This approval brings the number of participating states to 48, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Florida began accepting applications from institutions for SARA participation on October 17, 2017.

“We are extremely excited about Florida becoming the 48th NC-SARA member state.  The opportunities this will provide to Florida students to easily access online programs as well as the continued expansion of our great colleges and universities throughout the country makes this an important time for Florida,” said Morgan Champion, director, Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance Education Commission for Independent Education in Florida. “Offering additional educational options across state lines will increase the likelihood of students completing their degrees and becoming employed. We are thankful for the opportunity to join the other 47 states in this effort.” 

“SARA increases access to education especially for adult students who juggle other responsibilities when they return to complete degrees,” said SREB President Dave Spence. “Distance education remains critical to state goals to increase college completion rates and build a better-educated workforce.”

The SARA agreements are overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and are being implemented by the four regional higher education interstate compacts: the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

Once a state joins SARA, accredited degree-granting institutions in the state that offer distance education courses can seek approval to participate in SARA from their state. When approved, these institutions are able to operate in other participating SARA states without seeking independent authorization. Participating in SARA is entirely voluntary for institutions, as it is for states.

“SARA allows states to focus on their home-state institutions, rather than on institutions from many other states,” explains Marshall A. Hill, executive director of NC-SARA. “SARA can help expand educational offerings available to state residents and will significantly reduce costs for institutions that are active in online education, lessening this particular need to raise fees and thereby supporting affordability.”

All 16 SREB member states participate in SREB’s State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. Pennsylvania, District of Columbia and U.S. Virgin Islands affiliate with SREB for their SARA membership. SREB is also working with Puerto Rico on its SARA application.

The Southern Regional Education Board works with 16 member states to improve public education at every level, from pre-K through Ph.D. SREB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Atlanta. SREB member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.