A Summary of Steps to State Membership in SARA

How to Join

  1. Determine which state agency, if any, has the legal authority to sign an interstate agreement governing distance education laws for both public and private colleges. The authority must be sufficient that once the state signs, its existing laws are waived for SARA activity both to and from the state. If legislation is needed to establish such authority, obtain sample laws if needed from the National Council for SARA office.
  2. Determine which state agency will be the SARA portal agency. This is the “lead” agency for SARA, responsible for contact with other states and students from other states, but it need not be a college governing board. It can work with other agencies as needed for problem-solving.
  3. Determine whether state law allows the state’s SARA portal agency, or a combination of agencies, to investigate and resolve complaints against all degree-granting institutions in the state, public and private. Federal law (See 34 CFR 600.9(a)> requires that such processes exist, and a state must provide documentation of such processes to join SARA.

When the basic matters above are resolved, a state is ready to proceed
with the SARA application process. 

  1. Contact its regional higher education compact’s SARA director. Obtain a State Application for Membership form.  Review the form as needed and discuss any issues with the regional SARA director.
  1. Fill out and sign the Application and Evaluation Form for State Membership in SARA form and send it to the appropriate regional SARA office.  Attach to the form the following two items:
    1. proof of authority to sign an interstate agreement (usually a statutory provision assigning the authority to a board or official) and
    2. A copy of the rules that demonstrate the state’s ability to investigate and resolve complaints against all colleges based in the state.
  1. The regional SARA staff will evaluate the application and contact the state with any questions.
  2. When any questions about the application have been answered, staff will send the application to the regional compact’s SARA committee. That committee will recommend to the compact’s board or director whether to approve the state for membership.
  3. The state will be notified when its membership is approved.  At that time, the state may begin accepting applications from interested institutions, using the standard Application and Approval form for Institutional Participation in SARA.

WICHE Region SARA Director

John Lopez
303.541.0277
3005 Center Green Drive, Suite 130
Boulder, CO 80301