Montana letter questions

The State of Montana, a SARA member state, recently sent a letter to all institutions known to be operating online in the state, requesting that such schools notify the state of their current operational posture.

This letter was structured as an "application," which was confusing to schools in other SARA states, as SARA institutions do not need to "apply" to offer distance education in other SARA states. 

Montana has clarified to SARA staff that this letter was intended to help the state determine which schools were, and which were not, operating under SARA in Montana. Response by SARA schools is not mandatory, but provides information useful to Montana in the period prior to 2015 SARA data collection. 

SARA schools that offer distance education courses in Montana under SARA are encouraged to provide the state with this one-time courtesy notice. Once SARA data collection begins in 2015, states will be able to use the data system to determine which institutions are authorized to operate under SARA.

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Prior to SARA, an institution was required to register with the Montana Secretary of State as a foreign corporation as part of state authorization. Has there been any clear guidance if this requirement remains in effect with SARA?

In Montana, business registration requirements flow from the Secretary of State's office and are not directly part of higher ed authorization. SARA institutions will still need to check with the Montana Secretary of State's office to find out whether they need to register.

Frequently Asked Questions about SARA
If a state requires an out-of-state college to register with the secretary of state or other state registry and/or appoint an agent in the host state, does SARA affect that requirement?
No. SARA is designed to simplify regulatory oversight of interstate operations by education agencies. It does not affect the applicability of general-purpose state laws such as business registries.

 

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