State Authorizations / SARA
Individual States have the authority to regulate institutional activity (enrolling students, employing faculty or marketers, conducting internships, direct advertising, or performing other activities) within their state's boundaries as a form of consumer protection for their state's residents. Regulations vary widely from state to state. In 2010, the US Department of Education reminded institutions of higher education that each state is responsible for authorizing education offered to its residents from institutions outside the state. At that time, Federal regulation Chapter 34, § 600.9(c) stated that each institution for which students qualify for federal student assistance was required to demonstrate that it had approval to serve students from other states, as in the case of distance education. The federal regulation and compliance deadline was subsequently vacated (or "paused") for distance education, pending a new federal proposal. Yet, individual state regulations remain in effect and are applicable for institutions with activities within their state's boundaries. More information on the history of the regulations can be found on the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) site.
Given the state-to-state complexities and differences in authorization requirements, national standards for interstate offerings of postsecondary distance education have been established through an agreement among member states called the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). Virginia Tech became an approved institutional participant in SARA, in January 2015. Virginia Tech affirms its commitment to ensure that courses and programs offered through the SARA initiative provide high-quality opportunities that can help students reach their goals. The National Council for SARA (NC-SARA) site offers a list of benefits for students. States participating in SARA are also listed on the NC-SARA site.
The Comonwealth of Virginia is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board and Virginia Tech is an institutional participant in its Electronic Campus and associated Regional Reciprocity Agreement. As a part of SREB's Electronic Campus, Virginia Tech upholds its commitment to quality program offerings to students. State members of the SREB are listed on the SREB site.
Virginia Tech accepts State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the Commonwealth's coordinating body for higher education, oversight in resolving complaints from students taking distance education under the aegis of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA). If a student has exhausted the avenues provided by Virginia Tech and the complaint has not been resolved internally, the student can submit a Student Complaint Form to SCHEV. More details on the formal SCHEV student complaints procedure can be found on the SCHEV agency page.
If a distance learning student residing out-of-state while enrolled in a Virginia Tech course has exhausted the student complaint avenues provided by Virginia Tech and the complaint has not been resolved internally, the student can submit a complaint about Virginia Tech with the state in which the student resides.
California Department of Consumer Affairs
Consumer Information Center
1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N-112
Sacramento, California 95834
Telephone: (833) 942-1120
Filing a Complaint
Virginia Tech successfully achieved reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and School-Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) in December 2010. This acknowledgement reflects Virginia Tech's ongoing commitment to excellence in all aspects of its operations - academic as well as administrative - and our dedication to continuous improvement in meeting our institutional mission and strategic initiatives.
If a student has exhausted the avenues provided by Virginia Tech and the complaint has not been resolved internally, and if a student has exhausted the avenues provided by their state and the complaint has not been resolved, the student can contact the SACS-COC office. The complaint form and contact information for SACS-COC can be found within the file at the aforementioned link.
Virginia Tech offers programs that prepare students to sit for professional exams and/or apply for professional licensure. The program coordinator or department should inform you if the program does or does not meet licensing boards in your state. For students outside of Virginia interested in academic programs that may lead to professional licensure or certifications, it is imperative you understand the regulations for your state prior to enrolling in any academic program. We advise you check with your state’s professional licensing board to confirm whether the program will meet your state’s requirements. Similarly, a program leading to professional licensure in Virginia might not lead to licensure in another state, as requirements may vary.
A research tool that may be beneficial as you consider programs is the U.S. Department of Labor’s License Finder to assist in identifying the requirements for the state in which you live or wish to become licensed. If you have questions about the licensure requirements for a specific state contact the academic department you are interested in enrolling. Should you already be enrolled in a program and it does not meet the licensure requirements for your state, talk with the academic program coordinator or department to determine next steps.
Virginia Tech is an institutional participant in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) arrangement. As such, Virginia Tech authorized to deliver out-of-state educational activities in 49 U.S. states and most U.S. territories without having to see approval from those states and territories. This includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Virginia Tech can also offer programs and courses to students located in California, as the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education does not regulate out-of-state public institutions.
To meet state authorization requirements, every student must annually provide an up-to-date local address. Virginia Tech defines local address as where you are physically located when enrolled in school and taking courses. This address may be different than your billing and permanent address. A student will be prohibited from registration until this requirement, among others, is met. However, should a student’s local address and physical location change for any reason (internship, co-op, study abroad, etc.) it is a student’s responsibility to promptly update their record in Hokie SPA. A student’s failure to keep their address updated does not absolve the student of responsibility for matter that require notification by the university.