State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)


On November 2, 2015, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) approved Maryland as a member state to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) with an effective date of January 1, 2016.  The reciprocity allows participating Maryland colleges and universities to offer distance-learning programs and courses to residents of member states without seeking state-by-state approval. The agreement further provides enhanced quality assurance and consumer protection to Maryland residents taking distance-learning programs from other member states’ institutions.

Maryland institutions seeking authorization to participate in SARA will apply directly to the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). The parameters of MHEC administration are contained in the Education Article §11-105 and Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR 13B.02.05)


Maryland institutions seeking approval to participate in SARA must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • be accredited as a degree-granting institution of higher education by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE);
  • be authorized to operate in Maryland as an in-state institution;
  • if not a public institution, document a composite score of at least 1.5 out of 3.0 on the USDOE financial stability scale.

Any institution not satisfying all three of the above conditions shall be deemed ineligible to apply to MHEC for SARA membership.


Institutional Approval will require the completion and submission of the following forms to MHEC:

​​(The application must be completed in its original form and with required signatures of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the Chief Academic Officer (CAO). Items 1-13 on the application may be initialed by the CEO, CAO or the principal SARA contact. Alterations or substitutions will not be accepted)

Mail the NC-SARA application and documentation to:

Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC)


6 North Liberty Street, 10th Floor

Baltimore, Maryland 21201

An electronic copy should be emailed to Once MHEC receives the NC-SARA application and fee expect two to three weeks for processing. 


MHEC has established the following fee structure for participating Maryland institutions, according to annual FTE enrollment.  Colleges and universities that report unit enrollment data to MHEC may access Fall ​Open Enrollment Data​ to determine the applicable fee. All other institutions must use student enrollment data as reported to IPEDS. *Please use the most current data available when determining your fee.

Applicable Maryland fees should be submitted with your application.  The check should be made payable to the “Maryland Higher Education Commission” with a reference to SARA.  Mail to MHEC-SARA, 6 North Liberty Street, 10th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21201. MHEC approval letter will include a link to NC-SARA’s payment and approval process.

Annual Maryland Fees for Participating in SARA (COMAR 13B.02.05.06)

FTE Students Fee
Fewer than 2,500 $2,000
2,500 - 9,999 $4,000
10,000 or more $6,000

Student Complaints

Student complaints to the Commission regarding Maryland degree-granting postsecondary institutions participating in SARA may be filed HERE​​.


 National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA)

Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)

For questions please contact:

​Bryson Barksdale

Online Education Analyst

6 North Liberty Street, 10th Floor

Baltimore, MD  21201

(410) 767-3388​