We are pleased to welcome Dr. Leah Matthews as a new member of the NC-SARA National Council effective January 1, 2016 - December 31, 2018. Dr. Matthews currently serves as the Executive Director of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission located in Washington, DC. DEAC is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1926 that accredits 102 distance education institutions serving nearly 1.2 million students annually. Dr. Matthews has over eighteen years of experience in higher education accreditation.
In early December the National Consumer Law Council updated their prior critique of SARA. On June 23, 2014 Marshall Hill and Alan Contreras responded to NCLC’s earlier document. That response, which is still valid, can be found here. At present, 36 states have joined SARA, believing it will be beneficial to their students and institutions. As of December 18, 2015, 588 institutions participate.
NC-SARA is pleased to announce that DePaul University, Chicago, IL, has become the 500th SARA institution. SARA now spreads across the country, with 29 member states. An additional six (AL, GA, MD, MS, RI, TX) have submitted applications to their regional compacts, with several others anticipating application in early 2016.
On October 13, 2015 the Internal Revenue Service wrote NC-SARA to inform us that they have determined that we are exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501 (c) (3). Donors can deduct contributions they make to us under IRC Section 170 and we can receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522. Organizations exempt under IRC Section 501 (c) (3) are further classified as either public charities or private foundations; the IRS has determined that NC-SARA is a public charity under Section 509 (a) (2).
NC-SARA has applied to the IRS for 501(c)(3) non-profit status under the federal tax code. Securing that status will require several changes in operations; our goal is to make those changes without any inconvenience to SARA states and SARA institutions.
To ensure that the first round of institutional enrollment reporting will not be affected by these planned changes, SARA institutions’ enrollment reporting to NC-SARA will be postponed until May, 2016, one month following the conclusion of required reporting of fall 2015 enrollments to IPEDS. Additional details will be provided in early spring 2016.
On March 12, 2015, Senator Kirk Watson introduced SB 1470, which would authorize Texas to participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA).
Higher Education needs a new way for states to oversee the delivery of postsecondary distance education.