SARA Information for Students


What is SARA?

SARA is an acronym for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. It’s an agreement between member states that:

  1. helps states better deal with oversight of distance/online postsecondary (collegiate) education delivered to students in their state by institutions located outside the state;
  2. lowers costs for institutions to be in compliance with the extraordinarily varied laws and rules of the various states in which they enroll distance ed students; and
  3. provides students with greater quality assurance and more accountable complaint resolution.

Basically, member states have agreed that they will deal with these issues in a common (SARA) way instead of 50 different ways. There’s more to know on the NC-SARA website at

What About Internships and Clinical Activity?

Students enrolled in SARA institutions may be able to complete experiential learning opportunities in SARA states without the institution going through the state authorization process for each state. If the student’s home state (or location of externship/clinical/internship), and the institutions home state are SARA states; and SREB University was a SARA institution and the internship was being done in a SARA state, then SREB University would be able to let students attend an internship in SARA state. However, at this time not all SREB states are SARA states. If SREB University chooses not to be authorized in a non-SARA state, then the SREB University must be authorized in the state prior to allowing students to complete their experience learning opportunities or enrolling students in an online program. If the institution is not a SARA institution, then the institution must seek authorization in the state the student wishes to complete the experiential learning. SARA is not the cause of the problem, rather it is the solution to allow students to complete their distance education (online, clinical, internships, etc.).

Listing of SARA States and Institutions

You can see the list of SARA states and institutions on the NC-SARA website

What About Credit Transfer?

SARA has It has absolutely no effect on the transfer of academic credit. Each institution in the US, whether or not it participates in SARA, decides whether it will accept any particular student’s transfer credit.

What is State Authorization?

Institutions who enroll students in distance education programs are required to follow state laws related to State Authorization for the state where the student is located. This means the institution has followed all the requirements of the student’s state to be permitted to enroll students from that state. In other words, if the student were to enroll in a distance education program from SREB University and lived in ABC state, then SREB University would have to comply with the state authorization requirements of ABC state. In some states the process of authorization is not only expensive but the documentation required may take several weeks to compile. Some states even authorize by each program per institution. Consequently, institutions make the financial decision to be seek authorization in each of the 50 states. At this time, many institutions are opting to allow only distance education students to enroll from SARA states.

How is SARA Administered?

SARA is administered with the assistance of four long-existing regional education compacts: MHEC, NEBHE, SREB and WICHE. SARA work is coordinated by a national council (NC-SARA). NC-SARA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity that operates on the fees charged to participating institutions ($2,000-$6,000/year, based on enrollment).

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