DISTANCE EDUCATION COMES TO NEW YORK

Distance Education New York

New York’s State Education Department votes to participate in the “State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement” known as SARA

There are currently 43 states and districts participating in SARA and New York State has finally signed on. At the September 13, 2016 meeting of the NYS Board of Regents, New York State’s participation in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) was approved.

The passage of this regulation allows schools and colleges in New York to offer distance and online learning courses to students from other states and for students in New York to obtain recognized credentials from schools located states that also participate in SARA. Until now, this is something that has not been allowed under N.Y. State law and makes it easier and less expensive for colleges to do business in New York.

According to a press release, State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said “As a member of the reciprocity agreement, New York’s institutions of higher learning will save much-needed resources by only having to pay for SARA approval and participation once in New York State rather than individually to each state in which they would like to do business,”

“Savings for higher education institutions can help bring down costs for students as well as provide safeguards in the online marketplace.”

The move comes as the U.S. Department of Education inches closer to rolling out implementation guidance on new State Authorization Rules which were the subject of public comment this summer. The rules include new requirements for state authorization of online or distance learning programs, and for state authorization of branch locations in foreign countries. The proposed rules also would require schools to provide to students and prospective students a number of disclosures regarding their online or distance learning programs.

Still, several states including Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have not signed on with SARA, limiting state oversight and approval for distance education in those states.

Other states to recently join SARA include Delaware, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. Washington D.C. which is not a State, also signed on. Still several states including Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have not signed on with SARA, limiting state oversight and approval for distance education in those states.