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Academic Affairs > State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

Illinois has been accepted as part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) through the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). The Illinois Board of Higher Education is the Portal Agency for the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, and has the authority and responsibility to coordinate SARA activities for the state.

What is SARA?

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts.

How Can My Institution Join SARA?

Any Illinois degree-granting institution based in this State, holding proper authorization from Congress, a U.S. state or a federally recognized Indian tribe and holding institutional accreditation from an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education is eligible to apply through this State to participate in SARA. To participate in SARA through the State of Illinois, the institution must be authorized to operate and grant post-secondary degrees in the State.

Community Colleges

Illinois Public Community Colleges have a comparable application process that is administered by the
Illinois Community College Board. This will not abrogate the Board of Higher Education’s authority to request reviews of community colleges participating in the agreement.

Apply to participate in SARA through the State of Illinois:

Step 1: Complete and submit
IBHE SARA application and NC-SARA application.

Submit IBHE and NC-SARA applications to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Both IBHE and NC-SARA applications should be submitted at the same time. The IBHE SARA application and NC-SARA application must be submitted electronically to IBHE,

Step 2: Submit payments
The IBHE annual application fee must be mailed within 10 business days after submitting IBHE and NC-SARA applications. IBHE fees must be mailed with the SARA application invoice.
NC-SARA payment is due after the Board reviews the application and determines the institution is eligible to participate in SARA. After the application has been approved, the Board will send an electronic payment link to the institution.

Step 3: Approval

After the Board receives the applications (IBHE and NC-SARA applications) and the IBHE application fee, the Board will review the application. If approved, the Board will send the NC-SARA payment link to the institution to complete the application process. Institutions make payment to NC-SARA by credit card, check or electronic funds transfer. Upon receipt of payment, NC-SARA sends welcome materials to the institution and lists the institution on NC-SARA website.

Step 4: Complaint System

IBHE has the responsibility and authority to resolve complaints against Illinois institutions. Institutions approved to participate in SARA must provide the online complaint link on the institutional website( Online Complaint System.

Step 5: Renew Participation Agreement

Institutions approved to participate in SARA must renew applications annually and pay IBHE annual application fee and NC-SARA annual fee. Complete and submit IBHE SARA renewal application and NC-SARA renewal application. Follow Step #2 above to submit IBHE and NC-SARA annual application fees. For more information, click here.

Illinois Board of Higher Education SARA Contact:

Nkechi Onwuameze, Ph.D.
Assistant Director for Academic Affairs
Illinois SARA Coordinator
(217) 557-7382


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