About/FAQs

Approved Institutions

  • Acacia University
  • Arizona Christian University
  • Arizona State University
  • Brookline College
  • Bryan University
  • Central Arizona College
  • Coconino Community College
  • Cochise College
  • Eastern Arizona College
  • Grand Canyon University
  • Harrison Middleton University
  • National Paralegal College
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Penn Foster College
  • Pima Community College
  • Pima Medical Institute - Tucson
  • Prescott College
  • Rio Salado Community College
  • Sessions College
  • Sonoran Desert Institute
  • Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Southwest Institute of Healing Arts
  • University of Advancing Technology
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Phoenix
  • Western International University
  • Yavapai College

About the Arizona SARA Council

A group of interested stakeholders from the various sectors of higher education across Arizona convened on November 25, 2013 at Rio Salado College to hear a presentation about the new State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) from Rhonda Epper of 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.

Background on SARA

Higher Education needed a new way for states to oversee the delivery of postsecondary distance education.

The current process is too varied among states to assure consistent consumer protection, too cumbersome and expensive for institutions that seek to provide education across state borders, and too fragmented to support our country’s architecture for quality assurance in higher education — the quality assurance “triad” of accrediting agencies, the federal government, and the states.

A new, voluntary process of state oversight of distance education was created to redress these problems. The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (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 based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts.  The Arizona SARA Council is overseen by The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is SARA?

The State Auhotirization Reciprocity Agreement is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that esablishes 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 and administered by four regional education compacts. For more detailed information, please visit NC SARA

What other states participate in SARA?

NC SARA keeps an updated and interactive map of SARA states across the nation. 

What is the relationship between NC SARA, W-SARA and AZ SARA?

NC SARA is the National Council that provides a national oversight structure via the Council Board and the four regional compacts. Arizona's regional compact is WICHE and WICHE's SARA agency os W-SARA. Each SARA state has a portal agency that is the agency through which SARA activity in that state is conducted. The AZ SARA Council is Arizona's portal agency and all Arizona SARA business is conducted via the Council. 

Students

How does SARA benefit students?

SARA has both direct and inderect benefits for students:

Indirect: SARA allows participating institutions to streamline the regulatory compliance requirements for delivering distance education across state boarders. This reduces both institutional compliance personnel hours and compliance costs while still maintaining high institutional standards. Institutions are then able to deliver distance education to states outside their home state with significant cost savings. This access and savings are then passed along to the student.

SARA also provides set standards for distance education authorization. It is important to know that educational providers are approved by the state, accredited by either national or regional accreditors and meet financial standards to participate in SARA. 

Direct: Consumer Protection: SARA provides student with one point of contact for loading complaints against SARA approved institutions. Complaint resolution can at times be a difficult process and SARA's requirements provide students with a clear path to resolution. Complaints submitted to the Council must meet SARA criteria. For more information on the Councils complaint process and requirements, please visit the Complaint page. 

Who to contact for assistance with a SARA related complaint:

The Complaint page contains lots of information on the SARA complaint process and criteria for review. Lanna Dueck, Executive Director, may be contacted for specific questions. 

Approved NC SARA Institutions:

NC SARA maintains an updated list of all SARA approved institutions by state. Additionally, te AZ SARA Council publishes a listing of AZ SARA approved institutions.