Interstate Distance Education

On September 13, 2016, the New York State Board of Regents adopted new regulations requiring out-of-state institutions of higher education to seek and obtain New York State Education Department approval to offer distance education to New York State residents, and to permit the Department to enter into the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). New York State joined SARA on December 9, 2016.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

SARA is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for the approval of interstate postsecondary distance education courses and programs.

New York State institutions participating in SARA are authorized to conduct distance education activity in other SARA member states under the terms and provisions of SARA. Please refer to the SARA Policy and Operations Manual for more information about coverage under the SARA agreement. A list of states and institutions participating in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is available on the SARA States & Institutions webpage.

Applications to SARA in New York State are accepted on a rolling basis.

Requirements for participation in SARA in New York State

In accordance with New York State regulation 8 CRR-NY 49-1.2, higher education institutions must meet the following requirements to be eligible for participation in SARA through New York State:

(a)  be legally domiciled in New York State and be authorized by the Board of Regents to confer post-secondary degrees in New York State and offer registered degree programs in New York State;

(b)  possess and maintain institutional accreditation, by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, including distance education within the scope of its recognition;

(c)  for non-public institutions only, possess a financial responsibility index score from the U.S. Department of Education that is 1.5 or above;

(d)  agree to be bound by the SARA policies and standards and to be responsible for the actions of any third-party providers used by the institution to engage in operations under SARA;

(e)  agree to remain responsible for compliance with the requirements of SARA and applicable laws and regulations, regardless of whether the institution engages in operations under the agreement itself, or through a third-party provider;

(f)  agree to notify the Department of any adverse actions by its accreditor or any negative changes to its accreditation status;

(g)  agree to notify in writing all students in a course or program that customarily leads to professional licensure or certification, or which a student could reasonably believe leads to such licensure or certification, whether or not the course or program meets requirements for licensure or certification in the state where the student resides. If an institution does not know whether the course or program meets licensure requirements in the student’s state of residence, the institution may meet this requirement by informing the student in writing and providing the student the contact information for the appropriate state licensing board(s);

(h)  agree, in cases where the institution cannot fully deliver the instruction for which a student has contracted, to provide a reasonable alternative for delivering the instruction or reasonable financial compensation for the education they did not receive;

(i)  agree to provide any data requested by the Department, to the extent permitted by applicable law, to assist the Department in resolving any complaints arising from its students and to abide by decisions of the department, in order for the Department to effectively monitor any activities under the agreement;

(j)  upon application submission, pay to the department any state fees for application review and SARA participation as prescribed in section 49-1.7 of Commissioner’s regulations; and

(k)  pay an annual SARA participation fee to the National Council for SARA (NC-SARA), as required by the SARA policies and standards; and report any other information required by SARA and/or this section.

Application Process for Independent or Proprietary New York State Degree-granting Institutions

Note: SUNY and CUNY colleges should contact their academic program planning representative to apply to become a member of SARA.

1. Institutions complete and send a SARA application and NYS fees to SED. NC-SARA fees should not be sent to SED; these should be sent directly to NC-SARA after Institutions have received SARA approval from SED.

2. Once the application is received, SED will confirm that it is complete and includes payment of state fees. (Reminder: Do NOT send NC-SARA fees with your application.) Upon confirmation of a complete application, SED will commence its review process.

3. After review, SED will notify the institution of its determination and, if the application is approved, will inform NC-SARA.

4. NC-SARA will contact the institution to finalize the participant information and arrange for payment of the NC-SARA fee. Payments must be processed no later than 60 days after state approval to participate.

5. SARA membership commences once NC-SARA has processed the Institution’s payment.

6. Institutions are then eligible to operate under the terms and provisions of the SARA agreement.

Submission Process for Independent or Proprietary New York State Degree-granting Institutions

  • Application. Attach the completed application and the institution’s official letter of accreditation to an email and send it to: using the following format for the subject line:

Email Subject Line: [Institution name] - SARA application

  • Payment. Send a completed payment form and with a check payable to New York State Education Department to the following address:

New York State Education Department


Office of College and University Evaluation

89 Washington Avenue, Room 960 EBA

Albany, NY 12234


Fee Schedule.

SED Annual Fees
FTE* under 2,500
2,500 - 9,999
10,000 or more
NC-SARA Annual Fees**
FTE under 2,500
2,500 - 9,999
10,000 or more
**Do NOT end NC-SARA fees to SED; these must be sent directly to NC-SARA once the institution has received state approval to participate in SARA.**

*FTE enrollment as reported in IPEDS