Welcome to the Arizona SARA Council
What's In A Name: SARA, although a lovely name, actually stands for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. Now you know.
Purpose: The purpose of SARA is to create standard eligibility criteria and a streamlined oversight structure to enable institutions to provide distance education across state borders. We do this through voluntary state membership in NC-SARA, the national organization for state authorization reciprocity. They have loads of helpful information, like their state-by-state list of participating institutions.
Who we Serve: The Arizona SARA Council provides oversight and guidance to postsecondary Arizona institutions that elect to offer Distance Education across state borders through SARA approval. We also serve as a complaint resolution body for students who are provided Distance Education by Arizona SARA institutions.
Not To Be Confused With: If you need any information on Arizona state postsecondary regulatory oversight that is not SARA related, please contactt the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.
About the Arizona SARA Council
Institutions need oversight to comply with state laws and students benefit from consumer protection. This is not new. What is 'new' is the SARA model of reciprocity to achieve this.
SARA is a voluntary agreement among its member states and U.S. 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 by flipping the traditional model of institutions seeking distance education approval in every state outside its home state where it offers distance education, to institutions being reviewed and approved by its home state. This is SARA.
SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts. The Arizona SARA Council's regional compact is The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).
Historical Background on SARA
On November 25, 2013 at Rio Salado College, a group of interested stakeholders from the various sectors of higher education across Arizona convened on to hear a presentation about what was then the new State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) presented by WICHE-SARA (W-SARA). Within one year Arizona was able to accomplish an amazing feat by joining the three higher education sectors in Arizona (Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona Private Post-Secondary institutions and the Arizona community colleges) to support the unified goal of state membership in SARA.
At the time the idea was presented, Arizona did not have enabling legislation to allow the three sectors to enter into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to administer SARA. Legislation was drafted and passed with no opposition and was signed by Governor Brewer on April 23, 2014, paving the way for the three sectors to create the requisite portal agency to oversee administration of SARA in the state. An organizing committee met frequently to draft the application packet documents necessary for membership in SARA including the IGA, the State Application, the Operating Agreement and the Complaint Process. In October 2014, the state of Arizona applied to W-SARA for approval, and was granted membership on November 11, 2014.
Arizona SARA Council Members
Information on the Arizona SARA Council Executive Director and Council Members can be found on our Contact page.