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On behalf of the colleges in the Dallas County Community College District, students who live outside Texas can register for online classes through Dallas Colleges Online. To remain in compliance with state guidelines, Dallas Colleges Online has become a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA).

SARA is an agreement among member states, districts and U.S. territories. Currently, 40 states are members or about to become members. Students from member states can enroll in courses in the DCCCD because through a reciprocity agreement, the other states recognize and approve the colleges to offer courses online across state lines.

SARA’s intention is to make enrolling in college distance education programs based in another state an easier process for out-of-state students. It also cuts back on the time and financial burden of institutions to receive authorization state by state.

SARA aims to simplify how college and universities become authorized to offer distance education to students in other states. Today, individual institutions have to apply to operate in every state from which they intend to enroll students -- a time-consuming and expensive process that involves navigating and keeping up with each state’s changing regulations.

Marshall A. Hill, executive director of SARA likened that system to having to get 50 different driver’s licenses to be able to drive in every state. SARA, similar to how driver’s licenses actually work, has to do with reciprocity. Once a state joins SARA, institutions there can apply for blanket approval to offer distance education to students in the other member states or continue to handle state authorization on their own. An agency within each state -- a board of regents, commission of postsecondary education, university system office, or the THECB, for example -- approves those applications. *https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/12/18/state-authorization-reciprocity-effort-passes-tipping-point-supporters-say

Any institution authorized under SARA criteria in its state is considered authorized in every other SARA state.

While the DCCCD is currently applying for SARA compliance with the THECB, the seven colleges can accept registration from students in the 38 SARA approved states. Sixty percent of the DCCCD’s out-of-state online enrollments comes through Dallas Colleges Online.

This new compliance agreement will affect students in one of the 20 states, districts and territories not approved. Students who reside in one of those states or territories should check the DCO website, prior to enrolling in an online course. A compliant process has been set-up for students who reside in a non-approved state, district or territory. That process allows students to file a grievance with their home state.

Dallas Colleges Online currently has 532 out-of-state students enrolled.

To learn more about state authorization and its processes, visit NC-SARA or Dallas Colleges Online.

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Angela Auzenne