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SARA North Carolina will operate on a rolling admission cycle. This means that an institution will be able to apply at any point throughout the year.

Application Process

Membership and participation in SARA is voluntary. States join and become members of SARA while institutions apply and participate in SARA. North Carolina, as a SARA member state, is authorized to invite all North Carolina domiciled, accredited, degree-granting institutions offering distance education courses to seek approval from SARA North Carolina. The institutional application process starts with the submission of the application. Institutions applying to operate under SARA must submit this application and the Agreement for Institutional Participation in SARA North Carolina to the SARA North Carolina Portal Entity (SPE).

If your institution is interested in joining SARA your institution's Chief Executive Officer or Chief Academic Officer must initial each item on the application, indicating agreement with the conditions and terms of participation. Do not initial the right side of the application - these are the boxes the Portal uses to signify its approval of the application. In addition, the following documents are required with the application:

Item 1. Legal Domicile:

Before submitting the application, please review the NC SARA Policy on legal domicile: "Legal Domicile" of an institution, for purposes of SARA eligibility, is defined as the state in which the institution's principal campus holds its institutional accreditation and, if applicable, it's federal OPEID number. If the OPEID number is assigned to a location that is in a different state than the principal accredited campus, the affected SARA Regional Compacts shall determine which state is the Legal Domicile for purposes of SARA.

To establish that your institution's principal campus or central administrative unit is domiciled in North Carolina and is authorized to operate in North Carolina, please provide:
  • For public institutions, a copy of the naming statute or code (where the institution is specifically named). For constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina, a copy of N.C. Gen. Stat. 116-4 will satisfy this item. For the public community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System, a copy of 1A SBCCC 300.3 will satisfy this item.
  • For private institutions, a letter of license approval from the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina (if applicable), a copy of the naming statute (where the institution is specifically named), or a copy of the institution's articles of incorporation.
Item 2. Accreditation:

As evidence of your institution's status as a U.S. degree-granting institution that is accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, please provide:
  • For institutions that are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a Grant of Accreditation from the SACSCOC, any public disclosure notices (PDN), if applicable and any current communications regarding pending actions;
  • For institutions accredited by a national accrediting agency, a certificate and approval letter with stipulations or requirements, if applicable.
  • Institutions must be accredited (not “pre-accredited,” or in “candidacy”) by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to qualify for participation in SARA.
Item 3. Catastrophic Events Plan (CEP):

Please upload the Catastrophic Events Plan (CEP) document that explains processes in the event of a natural disaster or unforeseen phenomenon, where classes are disrupted. The processes should outline what happens if students are unable to receive instruction. Will refunds be provided? If so, how? Will teach out plans be provided? If so, how? Will you help students with transferring to another school? If so, how? We are a looking for a process that explains how you will continue to provide student services in the event of a catastrophe, and if not, how will students be remunerated. A template has been provided for your review. However, institutions are not required to use the template.

Please be sure to insert a hyperlink to all referenced policy documents for the institution, system office (where applicable), and accreditor.

Item 4. Financial Responsibility Index Score:

For private institutions only, please provide the following item:
  • Your institution's financial responsibility index score from the U.S. Department of Education, if applicable.
Item 5. Fees:

All institutions applying to SARA North Carolina must submit a check along with their application. For more information about the fees, please click here.

Item 6. Website Requirements:

Institutions are required to create a State Authorization webpage on its website. Please ensure the following criteria are on the webpage.

Institution's Complaint Information

  1. Please list on the webpage itself the contact information of the institution's representative that handles student complaints.
      a. Name
      b. Campus mailing address
      c. Telephone number
      d. Email address
      e. Website address
  2. Please list on the webpage itself links to the:
      a. Institution's Student Complaint Process
      b. Institution's Student Complaint Form (if applicable)

Accreditor Information

  1. Please list on the webpage itself the Accreditor contact information.
      a. Name
      b. Address
      c. Telephone number
      d. Accreditor's website address
  2. Please list on the webpage itself links to the:
      a. Accreditor's Student Complaint Process and Form (10-page PDF for SACSCOC)

SARA North Carolina State Portal Information

  1. Please list on the webpage itself, the State Portal contact information.
      a. Name
      b. Address
      c. Telephone number
      d. Email address
      e. State Portal's website address
  2. Please list on the webpage itself links to the:
      a. State Portal Student Complaint Process
      b. State Portal Student Complaint Form

State Agency Complaint Process

  1. Please list on the webpage itself, the contact information for the appropriate State Complaint agency for your Institution's sector
      a. Name
      b. Address
      c. Telephone number
      d. Email address
      e. State agency website address
  2. Please list on the webpage itself links to the:
      a. State Agency Student Complaint Process
      b. State Agency Student Complaint Form

State Authorization Liaisons per State

  1. Please provide the Student Complaint Agency's contact information for each State.
      a. Name
      b. Address
      c. Telephone number
      d. Email address
      e. Website address
  2. Please provide the State Authorization Liaison's contact information for each state.
      a. Name
      b. Address
      c. Telephone number
      d. Email address
      e. Website address

Professional Licensure Disclosures

  1. We can no longer use the phrase "it is the student's responsibility..." or instruct students to consult other states on their own without providing more information.
    Note: Many institutions have recommended the student contact the degree program within the institution directly prior to enrolling into the course or degree program.
  2. On July 1, 2020, the new federal regulations, 34 CFR 668.43(a)(5)(v) - General Disclosures, went into effect. Please ensure the institutional website includes the following information.

    The institution should disclose their findings, for ALL modalities, by creating a list of states where the disclosures use the following language exactly as it reads below:

    • the program curriculum meets state educational requirements for licensure or certification, and
    • the program curriculum does not meet state educational requirements for licensure or certification, and
    • the institution has not made a determination whether the program curriculum meets, or does not meet, state educational requirements for licensure or certification.

    For ALL modalities, disclosures must be made if the institution's degree programs are:

    • "designed" to meet educational requirements for a specific professional license or certification that is required for an occupation, or
    • "advertised" as meeting professional licensure educational requirements in a state for that occupation.

    Please note that disclosures are not based on whether the degree program actually leads to a professional license or certificate (i.e., a fully online RN-to-BSN program). If the program is designed or advertised to meet professional licensure criteria required for an occupation, disclosures must be made.
  3. If your institution does not offer a degree program that leads to professional licensure, please state that on your website under a heading that says Professional Licensure.
  4. Please add the full Contact Information (Name, Address, Phone, and Email) for the program director of each degree program that leads to professional licensure. If there are too many to list on the webpage, please create a link that will lead to such a list.
  5. Please provide the contact information for the Professional Licensing Boards, per state, that correspond to the degree programs you plan to offer. As a reminder, NC-SARA has created a professional licensure directory for five fields.


  • Please ensure that when a search is performed for student complaint, state authorization and/or professional licensure, the link to the webpage that lists the items listed above is within the top five (5) search results. For example, when a search for state authorization is performed, a link to the page that lists the above information should appear within the first five results returned.

When the application has been signed by the appropriate party, and all required documentation has been prepared, please submit the application, via fax or U.S. Postal Mail, to:

c/o SARA North Carolina
P.O. Box 41349
Raleigh, NC 27629
(919) 248-6667, fax

Upon receipt of the application, SARA NC staff will review the application and supporting documents and contact the institution for clarification or additional documentation, if warranted.

If there are issues of noncompliance, SPE staff will provide details and recommendations for resolving those issues to the submitting institution. If the institution complies with the recommendations and no other items of non-compliance exist, SPE staff will recommend to the SEAA executive director, that the institution be authorized to participate in SARA North Carolina.

In the event, the submitting institution disagrees with the recommendations provided by SARA NC, staff will solicit a sector representative from the SARA NC Advisory Council to liaise with the institution.

After the sector representative consults with the institution and if the issue of non-compliance remains outstanding, the Advisory Council will convene, review the entire application and provide a recommendation to approve or deny the institution's application to SARA North Carolina.

Considering the recommendation from the Advisory Council, the SARA NC Director will make the final decision in consultation with the SEAA executive director regarding the institution's application to participate in SARA.

SARA NC will provide written notice to each institution of the outcome of its application.