State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

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, referred to as NC-SARA, and administered by four regional education compacts.

States and institutions participating in SARA

NC-SARA maintains a list of states and institutions nationally participating in SARA.

On October 15, 2014, West Virginia was accepted as part of SARA through the Southern Regional Education Board Compact (SREB). The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has been designated the portal agency for SARA – the entity responsible for leading SARA activities West Virginia.

How can a West Virginia institution join SARA?

Any West Virginia public, private not-for-profit, or private for-profit degree-granting institution is eligible to join SARA, provided that its main campus or central unit is legally domiciled in the state of West Virginia and that it is accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. To initiate the process for joining SARA, complete and submit the following application to

Application and Approval Form for Institutional Participation in SARA: DOWNLOAD HERE

In addition to completing the application form and attaching the requested documents, you are asked to provide a link to your institution’s grievance/complaint process or a page reference for the process in your catalog or student handbook, and a link to professional licensure disclosures for each program that leads to professional licensure. More information about Professional Licensure disclosures can be found HERE.

What are the fees?

A state fee of $500 should accompany the application to cover HEPC administrative costs. Once an institution is approved by West Virginia, the Commission will notify SREB, NC-SARA, and the institution, including instructions on submitting payment to NC-SARA. The required annual fee paid to NC-SARA is based on an institution’s total full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment as shown in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and is assessed as follows:

Enrolled FTE                    Annual Fee 

Less than 2,500                 $2,200

2,500-9,999                       $4,400

10,000-29,999                   $6,600

30,000 or more                  $8,800


Institutions Outside West Virginia

Institutions outside of West Virginia that wish to provide education to students residing in West Virginia should seek authorization to do so. Institutions that participate in their state’s SARA membership are exempt from this requirement.

Student complaints to the Commission regarding West Virginia degree-granting postsecondary institutions participating in SARA may be filed HERE.


Lucy Kefauver

Director of Online Learning

Academic Affairs

1018 Kanawha Blvd East, Suite 700

Charleston, WV 25301