State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)
What is SARA?
SARA is a voluntary, interstate reciprocity agreement that
establishes comparable standards for interstate offering of postsecondary
distance education. Member states
recognize participating institutions that are authorized in other member
states. No additional institutional
approval process or fees are required to enroll residents of member states via
distance education. Participating
institutions must obtain approval from home state only, rather than every
other state. Institutional participation
is voluntary and limited to accredited degree-granting institutions. SARA establishes
comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance
education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students
to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another
For more information about SARA, and for the current list
of participating states and institutions, please visit www.nc-sara.org
Act 35 of 2016 was signed by Governor Tom Wolf on June 1,
2016, to allow Pennsylvania to affiliate with a regional higher education
compact and to apply to become a SARA member state. Pennsylvania was accepted as a SARA-member
state on October 27, 2016 with an effective date of January 1, 2017.
Pennsylvania is not a member of a regional higher
education compact. Therefore, Pennsylvania is required to affiliate with a
compact for the purpose of joining SARA. Pennsylvania has affiliated with the Southern
Regional Education Board (SREB).
Institutions with Physical Presence in Pennsylvania
does not remove the requirement for institutional authorization by the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
for institutions with a physical presence in Pennsylvania; it simply alleviates
the burden on institutions of higher
education in the commonwealth to obtain approval from multiple states to enroll residents in other states.
Distance Education Providers Participating
Distance education providers
that are authorized by a SARA state and accepted as participants in SARA may enroll residents of Pennsylvania
with no additional approval, application, or fees in Pennsylvania.
Distance Education Providers NOT
Participating in SARA
At this time, the original fees assessed for institutions to participate in SARA have sunset and are not being collected by Pennsylvania. However, to cover the fee for affiliation with a regional higher education compact and the administrative costs associated with SARA memberships, Pennsylvania is promulgating regulations to establish reduced fees to institutions for participation in SARA:
|$40,000,000 and over
Institutions may still apply for or renew their membership with SARA. Please note that NC-SARA charges a separate fee of $2,000, $4,000, or $6,000. Institutions must continue to pay this annual NC-SARA fee.
Current forms and materials should be downloaded for each application and renewal period (the PA Fee above and number 3 below (the PA Supplement) must be completed and submitted with the New application and each year with the Renewal application):
The application process
(PDF)Closure and Catastrophic Event Procedures
Students may lodge a complaint with the Pennsylvania
Department of Education against any institution located in Pennsylvania. Complaints may be filed by students from any