On October 17, 2014, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) approved Virginia as a member state to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). The reciprocity allows participating Virginia colleges and universities to offer distance-learning programs and courses to residents of member states without seeking state-by-state approval. The agreement further provides enhanced quality assurance and consumer protection to Virginia residents taking distance-learning programs from other member states’ institutions.
Virginia institutions seeking authorization to participate in SARA will apply directly to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). The parameters of SCHEV’s administration are contained in the Commonwealth of Virginia Policy on the Reciprocal Authorization of Distance Education.
Virginia institutions seeking approval to participate in SARA must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- be accredited as a degree-granting institution of higher education by an accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USED);
- be authorized to operate in Virginia as an in-state institution;
- if not a public institution, document a composite score of at least 1.5 out of 3.0 on the USED financial stability scale.
Any institution not satisfying all three of the above conditions shall be deemed ineligible to apply to SCHEV for SARA membership.
Note: NC-SARA Applications must be completed in its original form with required signatures of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the Chief Academic Officer (CAO). All items must be initialed (not typed) by the CEO or CAO. Alterations or substitutions will not be accepted.
Institutional Approval will
require the completion and submission of the following forms to SCHEV:
- NC-SARA's Application and Approval Form for Institutional Participation in SARA
- Attach documentation for items 1-3 as applicable
- Attach copy of student complaint process
- Virginia-SARA (V-SARA) Supplemental Information Form (Form must be completed by principle SARA contact)
- Mail the NC-SARA application, V-SARA Supplemental Information Form, and documentation to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), Attention Virginia-SARA, 101 North 14th Street, James Monroe Building, 9th Floor, Richmond, Virginia 23219. An electronic copy should be emailed to Virginia-SARA@schev.edu.
- Renewal Application for Institutional Participation in SARA
- Items 1-14 must be initialed (not typed) by the President or Chief Academic Officer
- Attach documentation for items 1-3 as applicable:
- Item 1 - Include the most recent documentation of the institution’s state authorization to operate and offer degree programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia [Examples: Council approved minutes, Code of Virginia legislation and SCHEV’s Exempt from Certification and/or authorization letters]
- Item 2 - Include the most recent documentation of accreditation by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education [Examples: Signed letter(s) from accreditor reaffirming accreditation, 5th year interim report, approved degree offerings, etc. Screenshots or print-outs from the accreditor’s website are NOT acceptable.]
- Item 3 - (Applicable to Private Institutions Only) Include the institution's most recent audited financial statement (in its entirety) AND a completed SCHEV Financial Composite Score Calculation Worksheet. Private Non-Profit Calculation Worksheet / Private For-Profit Calculation Worksheet
- Attach copy of institutions’ student complaint policy and/or process (see Item 8)
- Submit electronically to Virginia-SARA@schev.edu.
SCHEV has established the following fee structure for participating Virginia institutions, according to annual FTE enrollment. Listed fees correspond to 50% of the correlative NC-SARA fee. Colleges and universities must use student enrollment data as reported to IPEDS. *Please use the most current data available when determining your fee.
Once SCHEV approves an institution, the institution is notified and invoiced for the Virginia SARA fee. The institution will have 30 business days to submit its Virginia-SARA fee. The check should be made payable to the “State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Reference: V-SARA” and mailed to Virginia-SARA, 101 North 14th Street, 9th Floor, James Monroe Building, Richmond, VA 23219.
*Note - Fees for Virginia SARA and NC-SARA are separate. Institutions will receive an electronic link directly from NC-SARA to complete the registration process. Once your institutional contact completes the registration, he/she will receive NC-SARA's invoice for the national fee amount. Payment must be made to NC-SARA before your institution is recognized as a participating SARA institution.