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State Authorization

A Brief History

In October 2010, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released its regulation requiring institutions to document that they have the proper approval to provide distance education to students in other states. This regulation was challenged in the U.S. District Court and was vacated. In July 2012, the USDOE announced that "it will not enforce the requirements but institutions continue to be responsible for complying with all State laws as they relate to distance education." Many states have implemented new or existing legislation to enforce the regulations set forth by their state. As a gesture of "good faith" institutions have continued to request authorization by state.

The University of Illinois began this process with the creation of the State Authorization Working Group with representatives from the three campuses as well as University administration. This group continues to work diligently on behalf of the University to obtain the necessary authorizations in all 50 states and 2 territories.

In 2015, Illinois became a SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) state. 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.

State Authorization

Current authorized SARA member states include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Please note that California is currently not a SARA state.

NC-SARA Complaint Information can be found at: nc-sara.org/content/sara-and-students.

Professional Licensure

Please note: If you are considering an online academic program that leads to a professional license, it is highly recommended you contact the appropriate licensing agency where you plan to receive instruction before beginning your academic program. SARA does not provide reciprocity for state professional licensing requirements. Academic programs and individual graduates must meet standards set by that state's licensure requirements in order for a graduate to be eligible for a license.

Complaint Procedures

Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Integrity Rules, the University of Illinois System must provide to its out-of-state distance education learning students or prospective students the contact information for filing complaints with each state licensing entity and any other relevant agency that would handle the complaint.

If a student located in a SARA state has a complaint about an institution operating under SARA, complaints must first go through the institution's standard procedure for resolution of student grievances. If a student is not satisfied with the outcome of the institutional process, the complaint may then be brought to the SARA portal agency in the institution's home state. The state where the student is located also may resolve the complaint. Although students may choose to work through their own state's SARA office for complaint resolution, the SARA office of the state where the provider is located is responsible for staffing the investigation and complaint resolution.

For a complete state by state listing of licensing and complaint information, see http://www.online.uillinois.edu/resources/sara.asp


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