SARA – the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement – is an agreement between member states, territories and districts of the United States of America. As of July 2019, 49 states (all but California), the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have joined SARA.
SARA provides a voluntary, regional approach to state authorization of postsecondary distance education. SARA member states assume the principal responsibility of ensuring that SARA policies are followed by the institutions they approve to participate in SARA – policies designed to result in high-quality distance education offerings being available to students around the country. Institutions approved to participate in SARA enjoy a streamlined approach to securing approval to offer distance education/online programming in SARA member states.
Benefits to States
- Expands educational offerings to state residents.
- Allows SARA states to focus on their home-state institutions, rather than on institutions from many other states.
- Maintains state regulation of on-the-ground instruction offered by out-of-state institutions.
- Other SARA states will help resolve complaints. (SARA states commit to resolving complaints stemming from distance education offered by their institutions.)
- Reduces costs for institutions, lessening this particular need to raise fees and thereby supporting affordability.
- No membership cost to states.