Press Releases

Midwest is first region to have all states on board for state authorization reciprocity - Wisconsin approved for participation in SARA

Updated by on Wed, 02/26/2020 - 08:47

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 08/16/2016 - 15:02 ; Posted via Mary Roberson of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact

Minneapolis, MN — Wisconsin has been approved by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) as the eleventh state to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA).

Wisconsin joins Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Ohio. Nationally, Wisconsin is the 41st state plus the District of Columbia to join SARA. South Dakota, also a MHEC member state, joined SARA through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

SARA is a nationwide initiative of states that will make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and make it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education.

“We are pleased to have our entire region benefitting from the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement,” said Larry Isaak, MHEC president. “We can now focus our efforts on supporting institutions and educational opportunities for our Midwest students.” He added, “Wisconsin is a true example of collaboration. The Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Wisconsin Technical College System and the University of Wisconsin System worked closely to provide the best outcome for the institutions.”

MHEC's Commission Chair David Pearce said, "We credit our Midwestern state governors, legislators and higher education leaders for their efforts to make SARA operational in their states." Pearce is the chair of the Senate Education Committee for the Missouri General Assembly.

The Distance Learning Authorization Board (DLAB) will serve as the state “portal” entity for SARA. DLAB’s main responsibilities include:

  • Verifying and approving applications from Wisconsin institutions that wish to participate in SARA;
  • Resolving complaints from out of state students against Wisconsin institutions if those complaints rise above the institutional level;
  • Supporting and informing participating schools in Wisconsin of changes and developments in SARA; and
  • Communicating and working with other state portal entities regarding complaints by Wisconsin students against SARA institutions in other SARA states.

Dr. Morna Foy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System and current chair of the DLAB, stated “The creation of DLAB is another example of strong collaboration between Wisconsin’s higher education stakeholders. Wisconsin’s participation will expand high-quality student learning opportunities provided through distance education.”

Representatives from the DLAB are already beginning to accept institutional applications to participate in M-SARA.

Dr. Rolf Wegenke, president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the longest-serving MHEC commissioner from Wisconsin, praised the Compact for its leadership in developing SARA. "M-SARA illustrates that colleges and universities can be accountable and protect students without the bureaucratic pitfalls that can stifle innovation in education."

“I am pleased that Wisconsin is joining our Midwest neighbors as a member state in SARA. Our membership in SARA will open up opportunities for students as well as save dollars and streamline the process for Wisconsin campuses offering online courses,” said State Senator Sheila Harsdorf, who is also a MHEC commissioner.

“The M-SARA collaboration opens up access to a broader array of quality, relevant distance learning courses for students. We know that this is increasingly an important element and expectation for them in their educational journeys, and we appreciate the educational partners and legislators who joined us in the effort to offer this new, expanded world of opportunities to students and their families,” said Ray Cross, University of Wisconsin System President. Additional information about SARA is available on the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements website at

Media Contact:
Mary Roberson
MHEC Director of Communications and Marketing
(612) 677-2765