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State Authorization for Distance Education

West Virginia Northern Community College has been approved by the State of West Virginia to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education.

What is SARA?

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts.

What are the benefits of SARA to students?

  • Expands access to educational offerings.
  • Should lead to better resolution of complaints from students in SARA states.
  • Reduces a rapidly growing institutional cost that is in one way or another passed along to students.
  • Should enhance overall quality of distance education

For more information regarding NC-SARA, go to:

What SARA does not do:

SARA does not address reciprocity for programs leading to state professional licensure.  Students considering an online program that leads to professional licensure or certification will need to contact the appropriate licensing agency in the state where they reside and plan to take instruction before beginning their academic program.


Students relocating to another state after being admitted to WVNCC should inquire with WVNCC as to whether or not it is authorized through SARA, exemption, or non-regulation to offer degree programs to students in that state. Failure to do so may result in the student being dismissed from the college if the college is not authorized to offer degrees in the student’s new state of residence, as may be required by law.

Complaint Resolution:

In compliance with the new regulations, an institution offering distance education must provide enrolled and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accrediting agency, the West Virginia State SARA portal entity, and with the appropriate state agency for handling complaints in the student's state. For information on complaint processes, go to