Puerto Rico Joins Distance Ed Agreement
SARA collaboration among states expands online options for students, reduces costs for institutions
Puerto Rico was approved by the Southern Regional Education Board to join the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in June 2018.
The territory will begin accepting applications from institutions for SARA participation in the summer.
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, commonly known as SARA, provide a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. SARA makes it easier for states to regulate interstate distance education, and it eliminates approval costs for colleges and universities that are often passed to students. Institutions in participating states may join the clearinghouse through the reciprocity agreements. As of June 2018, 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are members of SARA. About 1,800 colleges and universities participate.
“SREB is pleased to welcome Puerto Rico under the reciprocity agreements, along with all SREB member states,” said SREB President Dave Spence. “Distance education remains critical to state goals to increase college completion rates and build a better-educated workforce.”
“Participation in SARA will especially make it easier for Puerto Rico colleges and universities to continue to serve the many students who left the island following last year’s hurricanes and are now spread throughout many mainland states,” said NC-SARA Executive Director Marshall A. Hill. “We’re glad that SARA can help those students continue their studies in the wake of such devastation.”
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).
“SARA allows states to focus on their home-state institutions, rather than on institutions from many other states,” explains Hill. “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.”
In addition to the 16 SREB states, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Virgin Islands also joined SARA via SREB.
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.