Authorization of Distance Education


State Authorizations

Authorization of Distance Education Across States

The regulation of distance education varies across the 50 states, each having its own set of rules and regulations governing higher education institutions providing such programs. Typically, these regulations mandate that higher education institutions offering distance education to residents of other states obtain authorization or approval from the respective states. These rules may also extend to cover clinical placements within the state. The intention behind these regulations is to safeguard consumers from potential issues within the distance education industry, as emphasized in the Program Integrity Rules released by the federal Department of Education in October 2010.

Recognizing the challenges posed by the compliance requirements and costs associated with registering online programs in all 50 states, the Commission on Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education established the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). SARA facilitates a collaborative approach among states by establishing uniform standards for the authorization of distance education. Institutions meeting the standards in their home state, and whose state is a SARA member, gain authorization to offer distance education to residents of other SARA member states without the need for complex and expensive state-by-state registrations.

It’s worth noting that California is currently not a participant in SARA. This is partly due to the belief among some California policymakers that the standards set by SARA do not provide sufficient protections for students enrolled in distance education. As a result, higher education institutions in California are not yet eligible to benefit from the reciprocity agreement offered by SARA when offering distance education or clinical placements in other states.

Contact Information for Student Complaints by State

In cases where students encounter unresolved complaints after engaging with the Institute, they have the option to seek guidance from the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) or the appropriate office in their state of residence.