• Institutional Approval Process for Delaware Colleges and Universities to Participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

    Overview

    The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an agreement among member states, districts, and territories that establishes comparable national standards for the interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. The purpose of SARA is to make it less challenging for students to take online courses and programs offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state.

    SARA is overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and is administered by four regional compacts, including the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).  SARA is voluntary for states and institutions. Each member state approves its in-state institutions for SARA participation. Institutional membership is voluntary and open to degree-granting institutions from all sectors of postsecondary education (for-profit and not-for-profit private and public) that are accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

    On June 9, 2016, SREB approved Delaware as a member state to participate in SARA effective September 1, 2016. Delaware institutions seeking authorization to participate in SARA will apply directly to the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE), the state portal agency for purposes of SARA compliance. Once approved, participating Delaware colleges and universities may offer distance education courses and programs to residents of other SARA member states without seeking state-by-state approval. SARA further provides enhanced quality assurance and consumer protection to Delaware residents taking distance-learning programs from other member states’ institutions.

    Eligibility

    Delaware institutions seeking approval to participate in SARA must meet the following eligibility requirements:

    • be accredited as a degree-granting institution of higher education by an accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USED);
    • be authorized to operate in Delaware as an in-state institution, i.e., Delaware must be the state in which the institution’s principal campus holds its institutional accreditation and, if applicable, its U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education ID (OPE ID) number;
    • if not a public institution, document a composite score of at least 1.5 out of 3.0 on the USED financial stability scale.

    Any institution not satisfying all three of the above conditions shall be deemed ineligible to apply to the DDOE for SARA membership.

    Application Documents

    Institutional Approval will require the completion and submission of the following forms to the DDOE:

    Mail the NC-SARA application, D-SARA Institutional Approval Supplemental Information Form, and documentation to IHE Approvals, Delaware Department of Education, Attention Delaware-SARA, John Collette Education Resource Center, 35 Commerce Way, Suite 1, Dover, DE 19904.  An electronic copy should be emailed to dheo@doe.k12.de.us. If you have any questions regarding the application process, please email IHE@doe.k12.de.us.

    Student Concerns

    Issues not resolved at the institutional level may be directed to the home state SARA portal agency of the institution against which the complaint has been logged. Students can locate state portal contact information by visiting the NC-SARA states and institutions webpage.

    For public and private (for-profit and not-for-profit) institutions based in Delaware, the portal agency is the Delaware Department of Education. Students with issues regarding public and private (for-profit and not-for-profit) SARA-approved Delaware institutions are to follow the Delaware Department of Education Student Complaint Policy and Student Complaint Form.

    Fees

    The DDOE’s approval letter will include a link to NC-SARA’s payment and approval process.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What are the requirements for institutions that choose to not participate in SARA?
      These institutions are required to contact the appropriate agency and obtain the appropriate level of authorization from each individual st ate in which it offers distance edu cation and may be required to pay fees to these states. Please refer to Regulation 292 and more information on this process at https://www.doe.k12.de.us/Page/314.
    2. What is the DDOE SARA application review cycle?
      Institutional SARA applications are reviewed and approved on a rolling-basis and response time is dependent upon the extent to which the institutional application is complete and DDOE workload.
    3. How will institutions be notified once their application has been approved?
      DDOE staff will review each application for completeness. Upon approval, the DDOE will notify the institution and NC-SARA, via letter, of the institution’s eligibility for participation.
    4. What is the next step after an institution has been approved by the DDOE to participate in SARA?
      Once approved by DDOE, the institution must submit payment to NC-SARA using the link provided in their approval letter. NC-SARA will verify acceptance and final approval by placing the institution’s name on the list of approved institutions for Delaware.
    5. What are the annual fees due to NC-SARA?
      The annual fees due to NC-SARA are based on an institution’s most recently reported Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) numbers. Payment details can be found by visiting the NC-SARA website.
    6. What is the time limit on addressing student complaints?
      SARA notes a two-year time limit on addressing student complaints.
    7. What is the SARA renewal process?
      Institutions are required to renew membership annually by paying the required fee to NC-SARA. Institutions can find more information regarding the renewal process by visiting theNC-SARA information page.

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