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SARA Policy

Overview of SARA Policy

SARA Policy Background

SARA – the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements – provides a streamlined, reciprocity-based process for participating postsecondary institutions to gain approval to offer interstate distance education in SARA member states without individually applying to each state for such approval, subject to certain limitations. SARA centralizes the authorization process for each SARA-participating institution in a single state that SARA calls the institution’s “home state.” Institutions approved by their states to participate in SARA must be appropriately accredited and meet academic and financial requirements designed to protect and benefit students.

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) were developed from 2011 through 2013 and began operating in January 2014. The original regional SARA agreements developed by the country’s four regional education compacts differed slightly from one another and were eventually superseded by the Unified State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (“Unified Agreement’) in December 2015. The Unified Agreement is the foundational document for the SARA initiative, establishing SARA as a nationwide endeavor. It provides a rationale for reciprocity as the basis for addressing state authorization of distance education challenges and outlines the general roles and responsibilities of the various partners involved in the work of SARA. To implement the Unified Agreement, NC-SARA and the regional compacts developed NC-SARA’s Policies and Standards and its successor the SARA Policy Manual, which specifies in greater detail the procedures, policy details, and guidance to institutions, regional compacts, and states required for the operation of SARA.

The SARA Policy Manual

The current SARA Policy Manual is the authoritative source of the policies and procedures employed to implement the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. 

The language above is taken from the Introduction to the SARA Policy Manual, Version 22.1, June 27, 2022.