State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA): Myths and Tall Tales

Concurrent Session 3
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

NC-SARA and the regional compact directors will dispel some of the frequent statements about SARA that are absolutely incorrect!  Test your knowledge? And what next for your institution? Real questions from the past six months will be used to dispel SARA myths


Dr. John Lopez joined the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) in July 2014 and serves as the director of the WICHE State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (W-SARA). In this position, he oversees state membership and institutional participation in SARA for the Western region's 16 member states and territories. Lopez’s previous positions include vice president of government affairs for Apollo Education Group, institutional research analyst at the University of Arizona and legislative aide for a state senator in the Nebraska Legislature. He earned his Ph.D. in higher education, specializing in management and policy, from the University of Arizona.

Extended Abstract

Using a Q & A format, an update on the status of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement and the impact it has on the complex and rapidly changing landscape of state authorization in distance education will be provided. Data on the authorization efforts of institutions, states, and the USDE will provide the context for the discussion. The processes and applications by which states and institutions can join and renew SARA will be included. Variation in the rate at which states and institutions across that nation are able to and benefit from joining SARA will also be analyzed and discussed with the goal of helping state level and institutional level decision makers proceed with authorizations in good faith and proceed with joining SARA when it is optimal for them to do so. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of the SARA Directors regarding policies, state and institution status. Participants will provide a list of questions and answers used to attendees at the end of the session.

  • Participants will hear about many of the misconceptions of SARA, about what it covers, what it doesn't cover and the how to tell the difference.
  • Participants will learn the up-to-date status of state and institutional participation in SARA
  • Participants will learn the steps a state must take to join SARA and where and how this can present greater or lesser challenges for some states; participants will see samples of applications from other states that have already joined SARA
  • Participants will learn the steps an institution must take to join SARA once its state has joined; participants will be walked through the application process and see samples of applications from other institutions that have already joined SARA
  • Participants will understand where their state/institution is in relation to being able to join SARA as well as have information to allow them to decide when it is the optimal time for them to join SARA
  • Participants will understand the type of data reporting required for both institutions and states
  • Participants will also be informed of the status of SREB’s Electronic Campus Regional Reciprocity Agreement and when it will dissolve.
  • Institutional participants will understand how SARA can become a part of their state authorization, risk management and enrollment management strategy.