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 state.
For more information about SARA, and for the current list of participating states and institutions, please visit
Pennsylvania and SARA
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.
Regional Education Compact
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
ARA 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 in SARA
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
Distance education providers that are not participants in SARA may obtain authorization on-line at
In accordance with 22 Pa. Code §741a.21, postsecondary institutions in this Commonwealth shall annually pay a fee to the Department based on tuition revenue from distance education. The PA fee has been waived since 2018; however, it will resume with the renewal cycle of 2023-24.
The institution is responsible for defining who they consider to be a distance education student. Both the definition and audited financial statements must be provided to verify the institution's reported distance education revenue. The fees are as follows:
|$40,000,000 and over||$7,000|
Applications for and/or renewals of membership are still being accepted, without the PA fee. Please note that institutions will continue to pay the separate NC-SARA fee of $2,000, $4,000, or $6,000, based on the email you receive from NC-SARA, after documentation has been submitted and approved by PA.
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):
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 state.