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SARA

Virginia SARA 

Introduction

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.

Participating Institutions

Eligibility

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. Institutions with financial composite scores between 1.0 and 1.49 will be considered with additional documentation.

Any institution not satisfying all three of the above conditions shall be deemed ineligible to apply to SCHEV for SARA membership. Institutions with a financial composite score below 1.0 are not eligible to participate.

Application

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:

New Applicants:

  1. NC-SARA's Application and Approval Form for Institutional Participation in SARA
    • Attach documentation for items 1,2 and 4 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 4 - Federal Financial Responsibility Composite Score (Applicable to Private Institutions Only)
        1. Title IV Institutions: Include the institution's most recent Composite Score provided in writing by the Department of Education, whether published online or provided in written form to the Institution by a responsible Department of Education official.
        2. Non-Title IV Institutions: See NC-SARA Manual section 2.5(c) and complete SCHEV’s Private Non-Profit Calculation Worksheet / Private For-Profit Calculation Worksheet and include the most recent audited financial statement or provide the calculation either as part of the Institutions’ most recent audited financial statements or as separately calculated and certified by a certified, independent accountant.
    • *Institutions that are controlled or owned by another entity should include the financial composite score of the parent entity [See NC-SARA Manual section 2.5(c)]

  2. Attach a copy of institution's student complaint policy/procedures. [See NC-SARA Manual section 4.5]
  3. Attach the Virginia-SARA (V-SARA) Supplemental Information Form (Form must be completed, initialed, and signed by principal SARA contact)
  4. 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.

Renewals: (Participating Institutions)

  1. NC-SARA's Application and Approval Form for Institutional Participation in SARA
    • Attach documentation for items 1,2 and 4 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 4 - Federal Financial Responsibility Composite Score (Applicable to Private Institutions Only)
        1. Title IV Institutions: Include the institution's most recent Composite Score provided in writing by the Department of Education, whether published online or provided in written form to the Institution by a responsible Department of Education official.
        2. Non-Title IV Institutions: See NC-SARA Manual section 2.5(c) and complete SCHEV’s Private Non-Profit Calculation Worksheet / Private For-Profit Calculation Worksheet and include the most recent audited financial statement or provide the calculation either as part of the Institutions’ most recent audited financial statements or as separately calculated and certified by a certified, independent accountant.
    • *Institutions that are controlled or owned by another entity should include the financial composite score of the parent entity [See NC-SARA Manual section 2.5(c)]
  2. Additional documentation:
    • Item 10 – Instruction: Include the direct link(s) to support your affirmation or attach documentation/policy if the link is not available.
    • Item 11 – Catastrophic Events: Include the direct link(s) to support your affirmation or attach documentation/policy if the link is not available.
  3. Attach a copy of institution's student complaint policy/process. [See NC-SARA Manual section 4.5]
  4. Email the NC-SARA renewal application and documentation electronically to  Virginia-SARA@schev.edu.

Appeals

Virginia institutions denied approval of initial and renewal applications may file an appeal to the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV). Within 15 calendar days of the denial notification, the institution may complete and submit a Virginia-SARA Appeals Form along with a formal letter and documentation supporting the request. Appeal requests will be presented to Council at the next feasible meeting. Council will vote to uphold the decision or vote to approve the application. The institution will be officially notified of Council’s action.

Virginia-SARA Appeals Form

Institutional Change of Contact Requests

Participating institutions are responsible for notifying the State Portal Entity of changes to its primary, secondary or billing contact staff information. Do not contact NC-SARA directly to request changes to institutional contact information. To authorize changes to institutional contact information, the Signatory Officer (Chief Executive Officer/President or Chief Academic Officer/Provost) should complete, sign and submit the Virginia-SARA Institutional Change of Contact Request Form to Virginia-SARA@schev.edu.

Fees

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’s application, institutional SARA contacts are notified and invoiced for the Virginia SARA fee. Acceptable payment types include checks and the Commonwealth of Virginia EDI remittance (restricted to publics only). The institution will have 30 business days to submit its Virginia-SARA fee. All checks should be made payable to the “Treasurer of Virginia - SCHEV. Reference: V-SARA” and mailed to Virginia-SARA, 101 North 14th Street, 9th Floor, James Monroe Building, Richmond, VA 23219. SCHEV cannot accept credit card payments.

*Note - Fees for Virginia SARA and NC-SARA are separate. Immediately following SCHEV’s application approval and submission, institutions will receive an automated message with an electronic link directly from NC-SARA to complete the registration process. Once the institutional contact completes the registration, SARA designated contacts will receive NC-SARA's invoice for the national fee amount due. Payment must be made to NC-SARA before your institution is recognized as a participating SARA institution. Additional information on NC-SARA participating fees is available at www.nc-sara.org/participation-fees.

 Annual Virginia Fees for Participating in SARA
 FTE Students  Fee
 Fewer than 2,500  $1,000
 2,500 to 9,999  $2,000
 10,000 or more  $3,000
 

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Through these values, we create a welcoming work environment that represents the best of who we are as an agency and as individuals.


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