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State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)


What is SARA?

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a national initiative which seeks to establish comparable national standards for the interstate offering of postsecondary distance-education courses and programs. SARA is a voluntary agreement among regional compacts (SREB, NEBHE, MHEC, and WICHE) and member states. Each member state approves their in-state institutions for SARA participation. Institutional membership is voluntary and open to accredited, degree-granting institutions from all sectors of postsecondary education (proprietary, public, private). Once approved, SARA member institutions may offer distance education programs in other SARA member states without additional authorization. For more information on SARA, and for the latest listing of participating states and institutions, visit nc-sara.org.

SARA approved postsecondary institutions listed on the NC-SARA website may operate within District of Columbia without additional authorization, unless the institution is physically present based on NC-SARA policy.

DC SARA - General Information

The District of Columbia became a member of SARA on June 6, 2016 through the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) compact. The District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) - Higher Education Licensure Commission (HELC) has been designated the portal entity for SARA - the entity responsible for coordinating SARA activities in District of Columbia.

Eligibility

Institutional membership is voluntary. District of Columbia institutions seeking approval to participate in SARA will apply directly to the HELC and must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be a degree-granting institution of higher education from any sector of postsecondary education (proprietary, public, private)
  • Institution’s main campus or central unit is legally domiciled in the District of Columbia and approved or licensed to operate in the District of Columbia
  • Be accredited as a degree granting institution by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education
  • If not a public institution, must have a financial responsibility index score from the US Department of Education of 1.5 or above. Institutions with a financial responsibility index between 1.0-1.4 will be considered with additional justification.

Any institution unable to satisfy all of the above criteria shall be ineligible to apply to the HELC for SARA membership.

Fees

Fees for an institution to participate in SARA consist of two parts. The first is a required SARA fee paid to the National Council for SARA. This annual fee is based on an institution’s most recent total full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment as shown in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and is assessed as follows:

NC-SARA Annual Fee Schedule:

FTE Students Fee
Fewer than 2,500 $2,000
2,500 - 9,999 $4,000
10,000 or more $6,000

The second fee is a required by the District of Columbia. The fee is determined annually and must be remitted with the completed application and is assessed as follows: 

DC-SARA Annual Fee Schedule:

FTE Students Fee
Fewer than 2,500 $3,000
2,500 - 9,999 $6,000
10,000 or more $9,000

Initial Application Process

To initiate the process for joining SARA, the institution will complete and submit the following to the HELC:

  • NC-SARA’s Application and Approval Form for Institutional Participation in SARA. (The application must be completed in its original form and with required signatures of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the Chief Academic Officer (CAO). Items 1-14 on the application may be initialed by the CEO or CAO. Alterations or substitutions will not be accepted.)
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

District institutions that are Congressionally Chartered Conditionally Exempt must complete and submit the Memorandum of Understanding [DOC] for participation in SARA as part of their application.

  • Supporting Documentation (required for all institutions):
  • documentation of legal domicile in the District of Columbia
  • accreditation by an accrediting body recognized by the US Department of Education
  • documentation of written notification to students relative to programming that leads to professional licensure (see application item #10)
  • student complaint process
  • catastrophic event policies
  • federal financial responsibility score
  • DC-SARA fees
  • Additional Supporting Documentation required (if required):
  • financial stability justification
  • bond or letter of credit

Seven individual copies of the request should be submitted along with one electronic version via travel drive. A check or money order for the DC SARA fee payable to the DC Treasurer must also be submitted with the application and delivered to:

Higher Education Licensure Commission
Attention: DC SARA
810 First St. NE, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20002

Note: Upon notice of an approved application, the institution shall receive a link and instructions for how to remit fess to NC-SARA.

Renewal Application Process

Institutions previously approved by the District of Columbia HELC as SARA participating institutions are eligible for renewal. The renewal process will include a review to confirm the institution's past compliance with SARA policies and standards and affirm its willingness and ability for continued future compliance.

The institution seeking renewal will complete and submit the following to the HELC:

  • NC-SARA’s Institutional Renewal Application [PDF] (The application must be completed in its original form and with required original initials and signature of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the Chief Academic Officer (CAO). Items 1-14 on the application may be initialed by the CEO or CAO. Alterations or substitutions will not be accepted.)
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Institutions that are Congressionally Chartered Conditionally Exempt must complete and submit the Memorandum of Understanding [DOC] for participation in SARA as part of their application.
  • Supporting Documentation (required for all institutions):
  • accreditation by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education;
  • documentation of written notification to students relative to programming that leads to professional licensure (see application item #10);
  • student complaint process (describe any changes since previous approval);
  • catastrophic event policies (describe any changes since previous approval);
  • federal financial responsibility score;
  • DC-SARA fees (see above).
  • Additional Supporting Documentation (if required):  
  • bond or letter of credit

For SARA renewals one individual copy of the request should be submitted along with one electronic version via travel drive. A check or money order for the DC SARA fee payable to the DC Treasurer must also be submitted with the application and delivered to:

Higher Education Licensure Commission
Attention DC SARA
810 First St. NE, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20002

Note: Upon notice of an approved renewal application, the institution shall be required to submit the renewal fee to NC-SARA within 30 days.

Resources

National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA)

Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)

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