State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

The U.S. Department of Education requires higher education institutions to be authorized to provide post-secondary instruction in accordance with their respective state laws and regulations. These regulations also apply to online, distance, and correspondence education offered within that state.

North Shore Community College is an active member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. SARA is an agreement among 49 member states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, encompassing 1,993 colleges and universities. Membership in SARA simplifies the process of taking online classes at institutions of higher education based in other states by establishing comparable national standards that provide high-quality postsecondary distance education opportunities to students around the country. SARA is overseen by a national council and is regionally administered by the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), one of four regional education compacts.

NSCC was approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to participate in SARA and became a member institution in April 2019. California is currently not a SARA member, and residents of that state who are interested in taking an online course at NSCC should contact us at distance@northshore.edu.

Complaints Process

North Shore Community College is required to provide current and prospective online learning students with contact information and processes for filing complaints. Should you have any concerns or complaints regarding your experience with online learning at NSCC, please use the Office of Academic Affairs Student Grievance Form and we will ensure that your concerns are addressed fairly and promptly.

If your complaint cannot be resolved directly through NSCC, please follow one of the processes below depending on your residency status:

For Massachusetts Residents and Online Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories:

If your complaint has not been resolved through North Shore Community College, you may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Education (DHE) through their Student Complaints Process. This form should be used by Massachusetts residents and residents of non-SARA states and territories (California, Guam, etc.).

 

For Online Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories

If your complaint has not been resolved through North Shore Community College, you may file a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Education (DHE) through the SARA Complaint Process. This form should be used by students who are located in SARA member states and territories. This also includes students who are located in SARA member states and territories outside of Massachusetts for the purposes of completing out-of-state learning placements, such as internships, practica, clinical experiences, etc.

 

The SARA portal agency in the student’s state of residence will be notified of any complaint filed with the Massachusetts portal agency. The student’s home state may assist the Massachusetts portal agency as needed. The complaint resolution by the Massachusetts portal agency is final and cannot be appealed to another state or federal agency or to NC-SARA.

Additional information from the DHE regarding the Sara Complaint Process is as follows:
  1. Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by the SARA institution.
  2. After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with the MA-SARA institution, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via the URL below.
  3. The Department shall send a copy of the complaint to the institution that is the subject of the complaint;
  4. Within 30 days of the date that the Department sends a copy of the complaint to the institution, the institution must provide a written response to the student and the Department.

 

More information regarding the DHE’s complaint processes can be found here.

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