SARA -- State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement
There are federal regulations regarding the authorization of out-of-state online students. Recently, several groups worked to broker a pact known as SARA – State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. The SARA allows participating colleges and universities to waive burdensome (and costly) requirements among states (and institutions) that are members. Participation in SARA will be administered by regional organizations. In the case of Maryland, this organization is the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).
“The State of Maryland is very fortunate to have a partnership with the State Authorization and Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) because it affords increased opportunities for Marylanders to make right decisions in their pursuit of quality education, both in state and online. SARA's exceptional quality control standards will help assure equity in opportunity for all students on the continuum of college and workforce readiness." Dr. Hunter-Cevera, Acting Secretary of Higher Education, adds, "The Maryland Higher Education Commission's decision to become a part of SARA was strategically the right thing to do in this era of doing more with less, to ensure the delivery of high quality, rigorous and relevant instruction."
-From SREB press release, November 2015
Maryland and the SARA
Before an institution can utilize the SARA, that institution’s state must pass legislation allowing participation. The state must consider not just its institutions (who will benefit by saving money and increasing out-of-state enrollments) but also its own students who may be taking online classes at an out-of-state institution. Maryland joined the SARA in November 2015 with an effective date of January 2016.
MHEC has been working on procedures for individual institutions to participate in SARA. Currently, the procedures include filling out the standard SARA form from the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and paying the applicable fee.
Maryland institutions seeking approval to participate in SARA must meet the following eligibility requirements:
1. Be accredited as a degree-granting institution of higher education by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE);
2. Be authorized to operate in Maryland as an in-state institution;
3. If not a public institution, document a composite score of at least 1.5 out of 3.0 on the USDOE financial stability scale.
Any institution not satisfying all three of the above conditions shall be deemed ineligible to apply to MHEC for SARA membership.
1. For institutions with less than 2,500 full-time equivalent enrollment, the annual, nonrefundable fee due to the Commission shall be $2,000.
2. For institutions with between 2,500 and 9,999 full-time equivalent enrollment, the annual, nonrefundable fee due to the Commission shall be $4,000.
3. For institutions with 10,000 or more full-time equivalent enrollment, the annual, nonrefundable fee due to the Commission shall be $6,000.
[Adapted from http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/comarhtml/13b/13b.02.05.06.html]
For more information, visit MHEC’s website at http://www.mhec.state.md.us/HigherEd/acadAff/SARA/index.asp