The evolution of SARA

Each step of SARA’s evolution required a great deal of conversation and a lot of debate. The people involved came from various perspectives, including: state regulators, state higher education executive officers (SHEEOs), accrediting organizations, regional higher education compacts, and institutional leaders representing all sectors of higher education. While SARA is certainly not a federal initiative, we appreciate the opportunities we have had to consult with supportive leadership of the U.S. Department of Education during SARA's development.

  • Lumina Foundation provided funding to the Presidents’ Forum, working with the Council of State Governments (CSG), to develop a Model State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) that states could adopt to acknowledge other states’ work and decisions in regard to institutional authorization.
  • Building upon the work of the Presidents’ Forum and CSG, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) advanced “W-SARA” in collaboration with the regional higher education compacts (Midwestern Higher Education Compact, New England Board of Higher Education and Southern Regional Education Board). Similar documents were produced by the other three regional compacts.
  • Combining all prior efforts and input from all stakeholders, in April 2013 the Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education, founded by SHEEO and The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and chaired by former Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, issued its report: “Advancing Access through Regulatory Reform: Findings, Principles, and Recommendations for the State Authorization Reciprocity.
  • In August 2013, Lumina Foundation provided $2.3 million in funding for regional and national implementation. The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) was established, and regional and national SARA staff began work. In July 2014, Lumina Foundation provided additional funds to total $3 million for implementation of the initiative.
  • In November 2014, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided $200,000 to fund the effort.
  • In January 2014, the higher education compacts began inviting states in their region to participate in SARA.

SARA was developed with input from:

  • A broad advisory committee.
  • Regional higher education compacts (MHEC, NEBHE, SREB, WICHE).
  • State regulators.
  • State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEOs).
  • Accrediting organizations.
  • U.S. Department of Education.
  • Institutional leaders representing all sectors of higher education.