Updates and Resources: State Authorization and SARA


Laurie Hillstock

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The May 20th meeting of the U.S. Department of Education (department) rule-making panel sparked a great deal of debate, as no final consensus was reached regarding state authorization for colleges that operate distance-education programs within other states. As a result, any new, proposed regulations will be left to the discretion of the department. However, we must keep in mind that a request for public comment (typically, a 60 day period) must take place prior to the any final regulations being instituted.

As you may know, Russ Poulin, serves as a member of the rulemaking committee, representing the distance education community.   He recently posted an update regarding the May 20th committee meeting, where he provides a summation of the topics discussed and his opinions regarding the outcomes. Among many topics, Russ highlights the key actions of the committee, including:

  • the recognition of reciprocity agreements as one method of obtaining state authorization,
  • state authorization within one’s own state for financial aid purposes regarding students in a foreign country, and
  • authorization for those involved with the military (under certain conditions).

He also highlights one of the key topics that has contributed to the debate: exemptions. Check out his full update: State Authorization Negotiated Rulemaking: What Happened? What’s Next?.

As previously mentioned, any proposed regulations are at the discretion of the department. At this point, many are hoping that the department will release information regarding proposed regulations in the coming months (by July 2014) and a response to public comments by mid fall (Oct 2014).

While we await further movement from the department, here are a few GREAT resources regarding State Authorization and SARA (provided by Mary Larson of the Southern Regional Education Board):

  • Webinar – How to apply to become an approved SARA institution.

The Regional Compacts are working together to provide information on SARA. Consequently, when one of us has a webinar, all are invited. Jenny Parks, the SARA Director for Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC)’s is providing a webinar on Wednesday, June 18 at 1:00 p.m. CDT regarding How to apply to become an approved SARA institution. You will learn which metrics to use to categorize your institution and pay SARA fees, as well as how to submit the application and the fees. You will learn about bonding requirements, financial responsibility scores, and the C-RAC guidelines. Representatives from MHEC state portal agencies will be available to answer questions, as will representatives from institutions that have already gone through the process to become SARA institutions. The information will begin to answer common questions from institutions. However, please keep in mind the Application and Approval Form for Institutional Participation in SARA will vary with state-specific provisions. Register for the webinar at https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=6wggxvgckidm

  • Resource Update: SHEEO State Authorization Surveys

SHEEO is pleased to announce a new web-based platform for the SHEEO State Authorization Survey. In collaboration with Pearson, SHEEO has created a fully web-based system for updating and presenting information from state authorization agencies in all 50 U.S. states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The system is now fully uploaded and operational; you can see all of the data in the new format at the following link: http://sheeo.org/sheeo_surveys/  You will find that the new site is consistently up-to-date across all agencies. The new platform has also allowed SHEEO to provide some additional functionality. The survey information is separated into tabs corresponding to each topic area, making it faster and easier for users to find exactly the information they are seeking.

  • Five states recently have joined SARA

Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Washington have recently joined SARA. For more information visit http://nc-sara.org/

  • Electronic Campus Course and Program Excel File Update: Term Table

For institutions submitting courses and programs to the Electronic Campus via an Excel file, updated term information is below:

 Term ID Term
1 Open
53 Fall 2013
54 Spring 2014
55 Summer 2014
56 Fall 2014
57 Spring 2015
58 Summer 2015
59 Fall 2015
60 Spring 2016
61 Summer 2016
62 Fall 2016
  • WCET – WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies Executive Director

WCET (the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) opened its search for a new Executive Director. WCET is a membership organization dedicated to bringing together colleges and universities, higher education organizations, and companies to collectively improve quality and reach of e-learning programs. WCET’s membership is located in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. WCET’s executive director operates both as the CEO of the organization and serves at the vice presidential level within WICHE’s (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) senior management team, reporting directly to the president of WICHE. WCET operates as a self-supporting membership-based unit within WICHE. Application review is continuous and will begin on June20, 2014. Please review the position announcement (http://wiche.edu/info/hr/Exec%20Dir%20WCET%205_2014.pdf)   and think about people who could fill this important leadership position. Forward this email to those who strike you as great potential candidates or the announcement informs you how to apply or submit nominations. Send applications and questions to exdir@wcet.info.

  • WICHE Regional State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (W-SARA) – Director

Position Summary: The Director of W-SARA leads the development, implementation, management, and oversight of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) for the WICHE region. SARA provides a platform for states within the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education to—upon application and demonstration of certain criteria—enter into reciprocity for the purpose of authorizing individual colleges and universities to provide postsecondary education courses and programs through the Internet or via other distance modalities to students living in other states. Four regional SARAs—functioning within the four existing higher education regional interstate compacts—facilitate reciprocity among willing states within their respective regions. The four regional SARAs are connected through a nationwide framework, governed by a national council and administered by NC-SARA staff.

View full announcement: http://wiche.edu/info/hr/Regional%20Director%20SARA%205%2021%202014(1).pdf


Post Written by: Dr. Laurie G. Hillstock: Facilitator, SLOAN C Leadership Series

Dr. Laurie G. Hillstock

Dr. Laurie G. Hillstock has been a faculty member and administrator in higher education for over 15years.  Most of her experiences have been in the distance learning arena, focusing on strategic planning (i.e., organizational structure, policy, accreditation, and funding models), faculty and curriculum development, marketing, and student success.She has also taught a number of credit bearing courses in the online, hybrid, and web-enhanced learning environment.

Dr. Hillstock currently serves as a mentor for the SLOAN C Certificate program as well as a content developer and workshop facilitator for other SLOAN C workshops, including the Online Leadership series.
Dr. Hillstock holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership (Higher Education) and M.A. in Human Resource Development from Clemson University.  She also holds a B.A. in English (minor: Computer Science) from Converse College.

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