Distance Education (Non-SARA) State Authorization and Institutional Accreditation Waivers for COVID-19


In November 2020, NC-SARA surveyed states to collect information about non-SARA distance education waiver requirements in response to COVID-19. NC-SARA also reviewed institutional accreditors’ “distance education” (for emergency remote learning) waivers and U.S. Department of Education guidance. The information presented on this page is a summary of the status of distance education waivers for COVID-19 as of 12/10/20.

State Authorization Distance Education Waivers due to COVID-19

The states listed in the inventory below have shared with NC-SARA their non-SARA distance education waiver dates and requirements as well as contact information for key personnel.


State Responses:

  • 34 states and territories responded to NC-SARA’s request for information about non-SARA state authorization waivers due to COVID-19.
  • Not all states regulate distance education. However, several of these states responded to our survey, but 12 did not.
  • 7 states who do regulate distance education did not respond to the survey. Institutions are encouraged to contact state agencies directly.

Waiver Information:

  • 28 states responded that they are not providing a state authorization waiver due to COVID-19.
  • 4 states responded that they are providing a state authorization waiver due to COVID-19.
  • 12 states responded that they have another form of exemption or exception.
  • 6 states responded that they are extending waivers or exemptions / exceptions beyond December 2020.

The most common comment was that waiver and/or exception processes are not on a fixed timeline given the changing nature of COVID-19 pandemic.

State Specific Information and Contacts:

  • Click HERE for state-specific information and contacts.

Institutions not participating in SARA should continue to confirm state requirements for each state in which they have students learning remotely due to COVID-19.


  • Most accreditors approved by the Department of Education that accredit SARA participating institutions have publicly noted the Department of Education’s March 5, April 3, and May 15 and subsequent June 16 updated guidance (“UPDATED Guidance for Interruptions of study related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)” that allows accreditors to waive their “distance education” (emergency remote learning) review requirements for terms through December 31, 2020.
  • Some accreditors have also communicated to their institutional members about processes for possible extension through spring term 2021. Institutions should confirm their institutional and programmatic accreditation requirements regarding notification, application for extensions, or other processes required. Find U.S. Department of Education announcements HERE.
  • On December 11, 2020, the Department issued this updated rule in the Federal Register.