Legislation

Search OpenLegislation Statutes
This entry was published on 2017-08-18
The selection dates indicate all change milestones for the entire volume, not just the location being viewed. Specifying a milestone date will retrieve the most recent version of the location before that date.
SECTION 210-C
Interstate reciprocity agreement for post-secondary distance education programs
Education (EDN) CHAPTER 16, TITLE 1, ARTICLE 5, PART 1
§ 210-c. Interstate reciprocity agreement for post-secondary distance
education programs.

INTERSTATE RECIPROCITY AGREEMENT FOR THE POST-SECONDARY DISTANCE

EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Article I

Purpose, findings, and policy

The states party to an interstate agreement desire by common action to
establish comparable standards for the offering of postsecondary
distance-education courses and programs and to facilitate more offerings
of distance education courses to the students in their state.

Article II

Definitions

As used in this section and any agreements and contracts made pursuant
to it, unless the context clearly states otherwise:

(a)"Accredited" shall mean holding institutional accreditation by name
as a U.S.-based institution from an accreditor recognized by the U.S.
Department of Education.

(b)"Approve" or "Approval" in the context of an institutional
application to operate under the state authorization reciprocity
agreement (SARA) means: a written statement by a home state that an
institution meets the standards required by SARA and is eligible to
operate under SARA.

(c)"Complaint" means: a formal assertion in writing that the terms of
this agreement, or of laws, standards or regulations incorporated by
this agreement, are being violated by a person, institution, state,
agency or other organization or entity operating under the terms of this
agreement.

(d) "Council" means: the National Council for SARA.

(e)"C-RAC guidelines" and other uses of "C-RAC" refers to the
Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education
Programs (Online Learning) for best practices in postsecondary distance
education adopted by the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions
(C-RAC).

(f) "Distance education" means, for purposes of an interstate
reciprocity agreement under this section: instruction offered by any
means where the student and faculty member are in separate physical
locations. It includes, but is not limited to, online, interactive video
or correspondence courses or programs. It does not include intrastate
distance education activity.

(g) "Home state" means: a member state where the institution holds its
legal domicile. To operate under SARA an institution must have a single
home state.

(h) "Institution" means: a degree-granting postsecondary entity.

(i) "Legal domicile" of an institution for purposes of eligibility in
an interstate agreement means the state in which the institution's
principal campus holds its institutional accreditation and, if
applicable, its federal Office of Postsecondary Education Identifier
(OPEID) number. In the event that the OPEID number is assigned to a
campus that is in a different state than the principal accredited
campus, the SARA committees of the affected regional compacts shall
determine which is the home state for purposes of SARA.

(j) "Member state" means: any state, district or territory that has
joined SARA.

(k) "Physical presence" means: a measure by which a state defines the
status of an educational institution's presence within the state. The
distance education activities of an educational institution with a
physical presence within the state are not covered under an interstate
reciprocity agreement under this Act and instead must meet the
requirements of the state.

(l) "Portal agency" means: the single agency designated by the state
to serve as the interstate point of contact for questions, complaints
and other communications related to the interstate compact and/or any
regional compact.

(m) "Regional compact" means one of New England Board of Higher
Education, Midwestern Higher Education Compact, Southern Regional
Education Board or Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education,
or another SARA interstate regional compact for the mid-Atlantic states.

(n) "State authorization reciprocity agreements" or "SARA" means: an
agreement among member states, districts and U.S. territories that
establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of
post-secondary distance-education courses and programs.

Article III
Interstate reciprocity agreements for postsecondary distance education

(a) The commissioner shall have the authority on behalf of New York to
enter into SARA and/or any regional compacts on behalf of this state
with one or more other states to provide for the reciprocity of
postsecondary distance education and to carry out all activities
necessary to carry out such function.

(b) Upon entrance into SARA and/or any regional compact, the
department shall:

(i) be designated as the portal agency and shall be responsible for
the administrative and functional responsibilities of participation in
SARA. The department shall not be responsible for all oversight
activities of providers in the state, but shall be the portal for the
state;

(ii) consider applications from degree-granting institutions on the
same basis and either:

(A) approve any institutions that meet the standards of SARA, and
agree to the process and commitments of SARA without differentiating by
sector;

(B) disapprove any institution that does not meet the standards of
SARA, or does not agree to the process and commitments of SARA; or

(C) may approve an institution applying for initial participation in
SARA to participate on a provisional status in any of the following
circumstances:

(I) the institution is on probationary status or the equivalent with
its institutional accrediting body;

(II) the institution is using a letter of credit or is under a cash
management agreement by the U.S. Department of Education;

(III) the institution is the subject of a publicly announced
investigation by a government agency, and the investigation is related
to the institution's academic quality, financial stability or student or
consumer protection; or

(IV) the institution is the subject of a current investigation by its
home state related to the institution's academic quality, financial
stability or student or consumer protection.

(iii) prescribe state processes for consumer protection and complaints
in regulations of the commissioner, as required by SARA;

(iv) operate under the processes, procedures and guidelines required
by SARA, including the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of
Distance Education developed by the Council of Regional Accrediting
Commissioners, if required by SARA;

(v) serve as the default forum for any complaint filed against an
institution approved by the state to participate in the state
authorization reciprocity agreement and the department shall be
responsible for coordinating any such efforts and shall have the
authority to investigate and resolve complaints that originate outside
of the state. All other state agencies and governing boards of such
institutions shall assist as necessary in such investigations and report
as needed to the department;

(vi) impose as a penalty refunds or other corrective action to resolve
complaints involving residents of other states;

(vii) maintain written documentation of:

(A) all formal complaints received;

(B) complaint notifications provided to institutions and accrediting
agencies;

(C) actions taken that are commensurate with the severity of
violations; and

(D) complaint resolutions.

(viii) report complaints and concerns to the institutions about which
the compliant is lodged, the home state portal agency responsible for
the institution, and, if appropriate, any accrediting bodies; and

(ix) impose an annual fee on any institution participating in any
interstate agreement, in an amount prescribed by the commissioner in
regulations which shall be consistent with any fees required by the
interstate agreement and any fees required for the state to administer
SARA. Any institution that is removed from eligibility from SARA during
the period of approval receives no fee refund; and

(x) report any information required by the National Council for SARA.

Article IV

Institutional eligibility for admission to SARA

An institution applying to operate pursuant to SARA under this section
shall:

(a) have its principal campus or central administrative unit domiciled
in a state that has joined SARA and be authorized to operate in that
state. Only distance education content originating in the United States
or a U.S. territory is eligible to be offered under the agreement;

(b) be a U.S. degree-granting institution that is accredited by an
accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education;

(c) agree to be bound by any standards, processes and/or guidelines
required by SARA, including the Interregional Guidelines for the
Evaluation of Distance Education developed by the Council of Regional
Accrediting Commissioners, if required by SARA;

(d) agree to remain responsible for compliance with the requirements
of SARA and applicable laws, regardless of whether the institution
engages in operations under SARA itself, or through a third-party
provider;

(e) agree to notify the education department of any negative changes
to its accreditation status;

(f) agree to provide any data requested by the education department,
to the extent permitted by applicable law, and assist the department in
resolving any complaints arising from its students and to abide by
decisions of the department, in order for the education department to
effectively monitor any activities under the agreement;

(g) report any information required by SARA and/or this section.

Article V

Approved and accepted programs

Nothing in this section shall be construed to repeal or otherwise
modify any law or regulation of this state relating to the approval of
any other educational programs not covered by this section.

Article VI

Effect and withdrawal

1. This section shall become effective upon this state's execution of
SARA and/or regional compact for distance education.

2. The duration of any regional compact and/or interstate agreement
and the methods and conditions of withdrawal therefrom shall be those
specified in their terms.