Overview

State Authorization

The U.S. Department of Education requires an institution offering distance education programs or on-ground field experience components to acquire authorization from the states in which it operates. Specific regulations vary from state to state. Susquehanna University (Susquehanna) is working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education, as well as agencies within states and territories, to comply with required authorizations, so that we can provide educational access to students across the country. Susquehanna will continue to make a good faith effort to pursue state authorization from all states and districts of the United States and its territories.

Why It Matters To You

Before Susquehanna can accept an enrollment from an online student for either a program or a course, the college must be in compliance with the regulations regarding distance education in the state in which the student resides. The same is true for face-to-face students who wish to complete field experiences (internship, clinical, service learning project) in a state other than Pennsylvania. If you have questions about the status of Susquehanna’s state authorization standing in a specific state, click the “State Authorization” tab above.

Student Complaints

In compliance with U.S. Congressional House Rule (HR) 668.43 (b) and U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) rules, an institution offering distance education must “provide its students or prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accreditor and with its State approval or licensing entity and any other relevant State official or agency that would appropriately handle a student’s complaint.” For complete details regarding the student complaint process, click the “Complaint Resolution” tab above.

Accreditation and Professional Licensure

Susquehanna University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). MSCHE is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to Middle States accreditation, many of our academic programs are also accredited by their respective agencies. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Education has authorized the college to offer a variety of baccalaureate and graduate degree programs, as well as certificate programs.

Susquehanna University is approved to offer programs that may lead to licensure/certification in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. However, Susquehanna cannot confirm that our programs meet the requirements for licensure/certification in all other states. Academic programs and individual graduates must meet standards set by that state’s applicable licensing/certifying agency, in order for a graduate to be eligible for a license/certification. You may also contact the appropriate licensing/certifying agency where you plan to receive instruction before beginning your academic program.

Resources

Because authorization is an evolving area, please check this site again for the latest statement from Susquehanna. For additional information regarding state authorization, click the “Resources & Guidance” tab above.

Susquehanna University is authorized to provide online education to students from all SARA member states, which currently includes those noted on this map.

State Authorization Compliance

Federal and state regulations require that all institutions of higher education comply with existing state laws regarding distance learning. As these regulations are continuously evolving, Susquehanna University (Susquehanna) makes every effort to maintain compliance where feasible. Susquehanna has developed a network of compliance officers, state regulators, and public interest groups to make the most informed decisions about these issues. Susquehanna works with regulatory agencies in each state and U.S. Territory to seek authorization, exemption or permission to offer distance education programs, courses and certificate programs to residents who wish to enroll in our distance learning education programs.

State Authorization for Distance Education Programs and Students

All U.S. States and Territories require post-secondary educational institutions to be legally authorized to provide post-secondary educational instruction in their geographic locale. Many of these state laws and regulations also apply to online, distance and correspondence educational instruction offered in that state. As such, Susquehanna University and its online/distance education programs must be authorized in certain states prior to offering those courses or programs to students residing in those states.

Admission of applicants outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to an online degree, certificate or individual online course offered by Susquehanna University (Susquehanna), is dependent on Susquehanna’s ability to secure authorization from the applicant’s state of residence, if such authorization is required. Susquehanna delivers online education programs and courses throughout the United States. All programs have been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. However, many states have prescribed an “authorization” process for out-of-state institutions delivering online programs to their residents to ensure quality post-secondary education, to preserve the integrity of an academic degree, and to instill greater consumer protection for its student citizens. Susquehanna has taken steps to protect its students and operations through nationwide compliance: by participation in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA); obtaining authorization, approval, exemptions and waivers; or confirming that Susquehanna University (Susquehanna) can operate without such authorization because the state’s laws do not pertain to an accredited institution or to Susquehanna’s activities in that state.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a national initiative to provide more access to online courses while maintaining compliance standards with state regulatory agencies. SARA allows institutions to provide online courses outside of their own state borders by seeking and maintaining state approvals via a streamlined process.

On October 27, 2016, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) approved the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to join SARA. As a result, Susquehanna is permitted to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. Institutions that are members of SARA are authorized to provide online education to students from all SARA member states. States and institutions that choose to become members of SARA operate under a set of policies and standards overseen by NC-SARA and administered by four regional higher education compacts. For more information about the SARA initiative and the progress of state and institutional membership, please visit: nc-sara.org.

SARA Member States

Currently authorized SARA member states include those noted on this map, which is maintained by NC-SARA.

Student and Faculty Location

Educational activity under SARA is deemed to occur where the student is physically located at the time the student is in contact with the educational provider or a contractor acting on behalf of the provider. The student’s legal state of residence is not a factor in determining physical location for purposes of SARA. Additionally, Susquehanna may employ faculty who live outside Pennsylvania to teach in programs offered under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE IN STATES OUTSIDE OF PENNSYLVANIA

SARA does not provide reciprocity for state professional licensing/certification requirements. Academic programs and individual graduates must meet standards set by that state’s applicable licensing/certifying agency, in order for a graduate to be eligible for a license/certification. For more information, contact the appropriate licensing agency where you plan to receive instruction before beginning your academic program).

Susquehanna University (Susquehanna) strives to resolve all student complaints in a fair and expedient manner. Susquehanna encourages all current, former and prospective students, regardless of their residency, to FIRST submit any grievances, complaints or concerns directly to Susquehanna. Students who decide to file a formal complaint as an academic or nonacademic grievance must follow the process detailed in the Code of Student Conduct, which can be found in the Student Handbook. Concerns should be expressed as soon as possible after the event occurs; some of the procedures below have specific deadlines for filing grievances or complaints.

If a student feels that the issue remains unresolved after reasonable effort to follow the College’s internal grievance procedures, the student may contact these entities to file a formal complaint:

  1. Pennsylvania Department of Education – Postsecondary and Adult Education; 333 Market Street, 12th Fl.; Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333; Phone: 717.783.8228, Fax: 717.722.3622, ra-collunivseminfo@pa.gov;
  2. Susquehanna’s accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, located at 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, Phone: 267.284.5000, info@msche.org;
  3. Appropriate agency in their residential state (see listing below);
  4. Pennsylvania’s SARA Portal Agency at PDE-SARA.

For a student who is unable to resolve a complaint via the above channels, please review NC-SARA complaint information at: http://www.nc-sara.org/content/sara-and-students.

Out-of-State Complaint Resolution Contacts

Distance students residing outside of Pennsylvania may file a formal complaint with their home state authorizing agency, ideally after exhausting internal avenues, by using the links below:

Please explore these resources to learn more about what institutions of higher education must do to meet the requirements of state and federal regulations:

WCET is a national, member-driven, non-profit which brings together colleges and universities, higher education organizations and companies to collectively improve the quality and reach of e-learning programs;

SHEEO is an advocate for state policy leadership, as a liaison between states and the federal government, as a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers, and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues;

NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of distance education (on October 27, 2016, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) approved the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to join SARA).