What is SARA?
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council, referred to as NC-SARA, and administered by four regional education compacts.
States and Institutions participating in SARA
NC-SARA maintains a list of states and institutions nationally participating in SARA.
On August 11, 2014, Nebraska was accepted as part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) through the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). The Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education (CCPE) has been designated the portal agency for SARA—the entity responsible for leading SARA activities in Nebraska.
How can a Nebraska institution join SARA?
Any Nebraska public, private not-for-profit, or private for-profit degree-granting institution is eligible to join SARA, provided that its main campus or central unit is legally domiciled in the state of Nebraska and that it is accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. To initiate the process for joining SARA, complete and submit the following application to Kathleen.Fimple@nebraska.gov:
Note: Please disregard page 8 of the application.
In addition to completing the application form and attaching the requested documents, please provide a link to your institution’s grievance/complaint process or a page reference for the process in your catalog or student handbook.
How does an approved Nebraska institution renew its membership in SARA?
Membership is for one year. Prior to the one-year mark, the institution will receive a notification letter from NC-SARA directing it to the renewal application form on the NC-SARA site.
Complete the form and submit it to Kathleen.Fimple@nebraska.gov along with the state fee.
Note: You do not need to resubmit documents provided with the original application unless there has been a change. You also do not need to fill out the bottom of the third page labeled “State Portal Agency Affirmation.”
What are the fees?
A fee of $300 should accompany the initial or renewed application to cover CCPE administrative costs. CCPE will issue an IBT for $300 to public four-year institutions upon receipt of an application. All others should send a check to the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education.
Once an institution is approved or renewed by Nebraska, CCPE will notify MHEC, NC-SARA, and the institution, including instructions on submitting payment to NC-SARA. The required annual fee paid to NC-SARA is based on an institution’s total full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment as shown in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and is assessed as follows:
> $2,000/year for institutions with fewer than 2,500 FTE students
> $4,000/year for institutions between 2,500-9,999 FTE students
> $6,000/year for institutions with 10,000 or more FTE students
Complaints to the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education regarding Nebraska degree-granting postsecondary institutions participating in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) may be filed here.
Please note that the first step in resolving complaints is to attempt to resolve the matter directly with the involved institution under established institution complaint or grievance procedures. Generally, a person who contacts the CCPE office regarding complaints about Nebraska institutions participating in SARA will be referred to college or university officials. In the event that institutional processes do not result in a successful resolution of a SARA complaint, CCPE is responsible for resolution of any such complaints originating at any SARA participant institution, public or private. Conversely, if you are a Nebraska resident attending a distance education program at a SARA institution in another state, you will need to begin the complaint process at the institution you attend. In the event that institutional processes do not result in a successful resolution of your complaint, the SARA portal agency of that state is responsible for resolution of the complaint. If help is needed in working with another state, CCPE will provide assistance.
Questions regarding SARA activities in Nebraska can be directed to:
Kathleen L. Fimple, Ph.D.
Academic Programs Officer
Nebraska's Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
P.O. Box 95005
Lincoln, NE 68509-5005
Nebraska Institutions approved to participate in SARA (25 to date):
Bryan College of Health Sciences
Central Community College
Chadron State College
College of St. Mary
Metropolitan Community College
Mid-Plains Community College
Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture
Nebraska Methodist College
Northeast Community College
Peru State College
Southeast Community College
University of Nebraska at Kearney
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
University of Nebraska Medical Center
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Wayne State College
Western Nebraska Community College