State Authorization and Reciprocity Agreement

Why does SARA exist?

The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution specifies that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Given this, the power to regulate education–including higher education–rests solely with the states.

What is the National Council on State Authorization and Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA)?

SARA is an agreement among its member states, districts and U.S. territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offerings of postsecondary distance-education courses and programs.  It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions in a state other than the one where they reside (for more information see: NC-SARA).  SARA is overseen by a national council and administered by four regional higher education compacts, with the New England Board of Higher Education being the regional entity for the State of Maine.   (see list of SARA and Non-SARA states).

Is UMaine a SARA institution?

Yes, UMaine became a SARA member in 2015

What are key things I need to know about SARA?

The major concern is whether an institution triggers a “physical presence” in another state. As mentioned above, each state gives educational institutions  the legal authority to operate within its borders.   For example, building a campus would trigger a “physical presence” however, this is not the only way that an institution can trigger a “physical presence.”  For example, many states consider employing a faculty member who resides in another state to constitute a physical presence.  Having a PO Box in another state is also considered by many states to constitute a physical presence.  Depending upon the state, there are a number of other activities that may constitute a physical presence.  Given the complexity of these issues, it is not possible to list all the ways that your program may trigger a physical presence in another state.

SARA-Member States:  Most activities (including internships, on-site courses, employment of faculty, online courses) are permitted in other SARA member states.

Non-SARA Member States: (MA, CA, CT, RI, NY, NJ)  Regulations vary widely, but it is possible to trigger a “physical presence” if you pay internship advisors, hire faculty, or host classes in another Non-SARA state.

Other links and resources:
University of Maine System NC-SARA webpage
NC-SARA webpage