Student studying

SARA for Students

NC-SARA plays an important role in ensuring consumer protections for students who take advantage of interstate distance education programs. Not only do we work directly with states to help assure the quality of the programs offered, but we also help support students in instances in which they may want information or have questions about professional licensure or concerns about institutional accountability or educational experience.

What is a SARA-Participating Institution?


SARA Institution Seal of Participation


A college or university that has been approved to participate in SARA may offer distance education programs to students in other SARA member states. Importantly, these institutions have met several requirements that help ensure their quality and student consumer protections, including:

  • The institution is a degree-granting institution, appropriately authorized (by Congress, a U.S. state, territory or district, or a federally recognized Indian tribe) to award associate degrees or higher.
  • The institution is institutionally accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and whose scope of recognition, as specified by the U.S. Department of Education, includes distance education.
  • The institution agrees that, in cases where the institution cannot fully deliver the instruction for which a student has contracted, it will provide a reasonable alternative for delivering the instruction or reasonable financial compensation for the education the student did not receive.

Student Resources

NC-SARA has developed a variety of resources specifically designed for students. Click the links below to learn more :

  • Student Consumer Protections: Learn about the policies that NC-SARA has established for member institutions and states to help strengthen protections for students and assure program quality.
  • Student Complaints: If you are a student - or another member of a college or university community - and you are interested in filing a complaint about your college or university, please view this information to learn more about the process.
  • Professional Licensure Information: NC-SARA has a variety of resources regarding professional licensure, including a directory that provides contact information for five programs (counseling, nursing, psychology, social work, and teacher education) that lead to a professional license.
  • Institution Directory: Find institutions’ and State Portal Entity contact information in this directory. Select a state from the drop-down list to view participating SARA institutions in that state.
  • SARA Source: Which Program is Right for Me? If you are a student considering a distance education program, the resources on this page will help you in your research.

About Accreditation

Students often have questions about accreditation in addition to state authorization. We recommended visiting the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) resource on About Accreditation for more information. All SARA participating institutions must be accredited by an accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and whose scope of recognition, as specified by the U.S. Department of Education, includes Distance Education.

NC-SARA curates a directory of Other Licensure and Accrediting Agencies for quick reference.