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State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

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SARA is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for the approval of interstate postsecondary distance education courses and programs.

On September 13, 2016, the New York State Board of Regents adopted new regulations requiring out-of-state institutions of higher education to seek and obtain New York State Education Department (NYSED) approval to offer distance education to New York State residents, and to permit the Department to enter into the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). New York State joined SARA on December 9, 2016.

New York State institutions participating in SARA are authorized to conduct distance education activity in other SARA member states under the terms and provisions of SARA. Please refer to the SARA Policy and Operations Manual for more information about coverage under the SARA agreement. A list of states and institutions participating in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is available on the SARA States & Institutions webpage.

Please note: Clinical placements in New York State’s licensed professions trigger a physical presence in New York State and require prior approval or exemption from the New York State Office of Professions.  This includes out-of-state SARA institutions. For additional information contact the Office of Professions at opprogs@nysed.gov or (518) 474‐3817, ext. 360.  

Requirements for participation in SARA in New York State

In accordance with New York State regulation 8 CRR-NY 49-1.2, to be eligible for participation in SARA through New York State, higher education institutions must: 

  1. be legally domiciled in New York State and be authorized by the Board of Regents to confer post-secondary degrees in New York State and offer registered degree programs in New York State;
  2. possess and maintain institutional accreditation, by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, including distance education within the scope of its recognition;
  3. for non-public institutions only, possess a financial responsibility index score from the U.S. Department of Education that is 1.5 or above;
  4. agree to be bound by the SARA policies and standards and to be responsible for the actions of any third-party providers used by the institution to engage in operations under SARA;
  5. agree to remain responsible for compliance with the requirements of SARA and applicable laws and regulations, regardless of whether the institution engages in operations under the agreement itself, or through a third-party provider;
  6. agree to notify NYSED of any adverse actions by its accreditor or any negative changes to its accreditation status;
  7. agree to notify in writing all students in a course or program that customarily leads to professional licensure or certification, or which a student could reasonably believe leads to such licensure or certification, whether or not the course or program meets requirements for licensure or certification in the state where the student resides. If an institution does not know whether the course or program meets licensure requirements in the student’s state of residence, the institution may meet this requirement by informing the student in writing and providing the student the contact information for the appropriate state licensing board(s);
  8. agree, in cases where the institution cannot fully deliver the instruction for which a student has contracted, to provide a reasonable alternative for delivering the instruction or reasonable financial compensation for the education they did not receive;
  9. agree to provide any data requested by NYSED, to the extent permitted by applicable law, to assist NYSED in resolving any complaints arising from its students and to abide by decisions of NYSED, in order for NYSED to effectively monitor any activities under the agreement;
  10. upon application submission, pay to NYSED any state fees for application review and SARA participation as prescribed in section 49-1.7 of Commissioner’s regulations; and
  11. pay an annual SARA participation fee to the National Council for SARA (NC-SARA), as required by the SARA policies and standards; and report any other information required by SARA and/or this section.
SARA Application Process
  1. Institutions complete and send a SARA application and State fees to NYSED.
  • SUNY and CUNY colleges should contact their academic program planning representative to apply to become a member of SARA.
  • NC-SARA fees should not be sent to NYSED; these should be sent directly to NC-SARA after Institutions have received SARA approval from NYSED.
  • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  1. Once the application is received, NYSED will confirm that it is complete and includes payment of state fees. (Reminder: Do NOT send NC-SARA fees with your application.) Upon confirmation of a complete application, NYSED will commence its review process.
  2. After review, NYSED will notify the institution of its determination and, if the application is approved, will inform NC-SARA.
  3. NC-SARA will contact the institution to finalize the participant information and arrange for payment of the NC-SARA fee. Payments must be processed no later than 60 days after state approval to participate.
  4. SARA membership commences once NC-SARA has processed the Institution’s payment.
  5. Institutions are then eligible to operate under the terms and provisions of the SARA agreement.
Submission Process for SARA Applications

Application 

Attach the completed application and the institution’s official letter of accreditation to an email and send it to: IHEauthorize@nysed.gov using the following format for the subject line:

Email Subject Line: [Institution name] - SARA application

Payment

Institutions must make separate payments to NYSED and to NC-SARA.

Payment to the New York State Education Department

To complete submission of the SARA application, institutions must remit payment to NYSED. Annual fees for participation in SARA are based on full-time student enrollment as reported to IPEDS and as specified in the table below.   

State Education Department Annual Fees
Student FTE Annual Fee
FTE under 2,500 $5,000
2,500 - 9,999 $7,000
10,000 or more $9,000

Send a completed payment form and a check payable to NYSED to the following address:

New York State Education Department

ATTN: SARA

Office of College and University Evaluation

89 Washington Avenue, Room 960 EBA

Albany, NY 12234

Payment to NC-SARA

A second payment must be sent directly to NC-SARA after an application has been approved by the NYSED. NC-SARA will contact applicants to arrange for payment. Annual NC-SARA fees are based on student full-time enrollment (as reported in IPEDS) as specified in the table below.

Annual NC-SARA Fees
Student FTE Annual Fee
FTE Under 2,500 $2,000
2,500 - 9,999 $4,000
10,000 or more $6,000