Chicago - On Monday, June 1st, Iowa was approved by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) as the eighth state to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA) during the biannual business meeting of MHEC’s Executive Committee. Iowa joins Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Ohio. Nationally, Iowa is the 24th state to join the agreement.
SARA is a nationwide initiative of states that will make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and make it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education. The effort is funded by a $3 million grant from Lumina Foundation, a $200,000 grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and fees paid by institutions.
“Increasingly, more jobs in Iowa and across the nation require additional education beyond high school,” said Karen Misjak, executive director of the Iowa College Student Aid Commission. “Now, those seeking ways to develop new skills and ultimately earn higher wages will have access to more quality online programs through high-performing institutions of higher education.”
The Iowa College Student Aid Commission will serve as the state “portal” agency for SARA. Known as Iowa College Aid, it was created in 1963 by the Iowa General Assembly, and is a state agency dedicated to making the path to education and training beyond high school easier for Iowans. Iowa College Aid provides college access, financial literacy, and outreach services to Iowa’s students and families as they prepare, plan and pay for college. Iowa College Aid also administers state scholarship, grant, work study, and loan forgiveness programs totaling over $70.0 million annually, conducts research, and distributes higher education data.
Representatives from Iowa College Aid anticipate that it may be ready to accept institutional participation applications by the end of the year. Additional information about SARA will be available on the Iowa College Aid website at www.IowaCollegeAid.gov and through direct communications to Iowa schools.
“We recognize the Iowa leaders and their effort to pass the SARA legislation,” said Larry Isaak, MHEC president. “This voluntary effort by states to join SARA improves student access to educational opportunities in other states and will save institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars in regulatory fees.”