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.
Illinois Community Colleges have a separate process that is administered by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB). The Illinois Community College Administrative Rules can be found here. Please contact ICCB for assistance at 217-785-0123.
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, SARA Application.
Step 2: Submit payments
IBHE Fee Information
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.
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.
National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) Website
National Council for SARA
Administrative Rules (23 III. Admin. Code 1033) (August, 2015)
NC-SARA Policies and Standards
Midwestern Higher Education Compact SARA updates and resources
IBHE online complaint system
Learn more about the distance learning approval process for non-SARA out-of-state institutions
Illinois Institutions approved for SARA