In 2010, the U.S. Department of Higher Education issued a regulation which tied an institution’s ability to offer federal financial aid to the institution authorized to teach the student. This is based upon the state where the student is attending classes. Although the regulation was vacated by a federal court ruling, the Department of Education indicated that state authorization was the state’s responsibility. Institutions have already put in place process to follow the regulation. Finally, in December 2016, new federal regulations for State Authorization of Postsecondary Distance Education was issued with an effective date of July 1, 2018.

To address the expectation that each institution was to obtain approval to teach students residing in other states, National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (NC-SARA) was formed. NC-SARA allows for one application to authorize an institution to teach outside of their state. The institution will need to follow certain criteria. This agreement includes distance learning but also has implications beyond online courses. Florida is one of the last states to join due to the need to create a single governing body.

Governor Scott signed CS/CS/HB 859 which authorizes Florida to participate in a state authorization reciprocity agreement. Florida will need to create the Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance Education Coordinating Council. That Council will be submitting the application for Florida to participate in NC-SARA and creating the rule for applications to be submitted from the institutions.

What does all of this mean for FAU? Once FAU’s application is submitted and approved, students from 48 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands can take distance learning classes at FAU. Please note, there will still be expectations in fields that require certification. Working with the Center for eLearning is the best way to make sure your degree program will be eligible.

Where is FAU in the process? The Center for eLearning is following the developments in the state. An application to join NS-SARA is already being prepared so it can be submitted as soon as the rules are shared with us.

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