What is SARA?

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a voluntary agreement designed to establish comparable standards for U.S. states and territories regulating postsecondary distance education. With its reciprocity provisions, the agreement enables institutions to gain approval from their “home state” to offer distance education in participating states without having to individually apply to each state for such approval. Participation in SARA reduces the costs of delivering online learning—resulting from inconsistent, complicated and expensive regulatory processes—saving institutions millions of dollars in fees while helping create access for students to high-quality online programs to meet the needs of their busy lives. 

The agreement is coordinated by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), in collaboration with the four regional higher education compacts. As the compact serving the northeast region, NEBHE is responsible for coordinating the participation of SARA member states in New England through the NEBHE State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (N-SARA).

As of April 2019, 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are members of SARA. Over 2,000 colleges and universities participate nationally.



Why was SARA created? by S. Miller

What is NC-SARA and how are they connected to NEBHE?


The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) is the national coordinating entity which works in conjunction with the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) and three parallel regional education organizations, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) to facilitate the SARA agreement.


NEBHE and its SARA partners work together to implement uniform standards and procedures for accepting and monitoring States participating in each of their respective regional reciprocity agreements; thus, States participating in SARA through any one compact will be recognized as reciprocal partners with States participating in SARA through any another regional compact. Through this reciprocity, eligible institutions are assured that their participation in one region’s SARA initiative will carry full value in any other SARA state, from any other region.


NEBHE oversees the implementation, coordination and conversations specifically with those in the higher education community in New England, New Jersey and New York. NC-SARA coordinates with a broad array of higher education stakeholders to ensure alignment on core elements and requirements of SARA.

Learn more about NC-SARA

SARA Policy Manual

The authoritative guide to SARA Policy & Procedures.
Click here for the Manual

State Authorization Guide

Click here for the Guide

SARA Data Reporting Handbook

Click here for the Handbook