State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)
The U.S. Department of Education requires higher education institutions to be authorized to provide post-secondary educational instruction in their states. Many of these state laws and regulations also apply to online, distance, and correspondence educational instruction offered in that state.
Anna Maria College is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). SARA is an agreement among member states, districts, and territories of the United States. It establishes national standards for the interstate offering of distance education courses and programs. It simplifies the process of taking online classes at an institution of higher education based in another state. The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) is one of four regional education compacts and is the compact that administers SARA for institutions located in Massachusetts. A national council (NC-SARA) oversees SARA and the regional compacts.
Anna Maria College was approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to participate in SARA, and became a SARA institution in 2021. At this time, only California is not a member state. If you reside in California and are interested in taking an online class at Anna Maria College, please contact our Admissions office.
Student Complaint Process
Consumer Protection Complaints
For Massachusetts Residents and Online Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories
If you have a complaint or concern that has not been resolved by Anna Maria College, you may file a consumer complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) by using the consumer complaint form. The DHE consumer complaint form should be used by students who are located in:
- Non-SARA Member States or Territories (e.g., California, Guam, etc.)
For Online Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories
After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by Anna Maria College, located online, if your complaint has not been resolved, you may file a complaint with the DHE by using the SARA complaint form. Please note: for SARA complaints, students are explicitly required to exhaust the institution’s available complaint procedures before filing a SARA complaint.
The DHE SARA complaint form should be used by students who are located in SARA member states and territories. This includes all students who are located in SARA member states and territories for the purposes of completing out-of-state learning placements, such as internships, practica, clinical experiences, etc. in SARA member states and territories outside Massachusetts.
Additional information from the DHE’s SARA complaint website is below:
The SARA complaint process is as follows:
- Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by the SARA institution.
- After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with the MA-SARA institution, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via the URL below.
- The Department shall send a copy of the complaint to the institution that is the subject of the complaint;
- Within 30 days of the date that the Department sends a copy of the complaint to the institution, the institution must provide a written response to the student and the Department.
More information about DHE’s complaint processes can be found here.
Students residing in California may file a complaint about distance education as follows:
California Department of Consumer Affairs
Consumer Information Center
1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N-112
Sacramento, California 95834
Telephone: 833- 942-1120
All members of the Anna Maria community are encouraged to make efforts to resolve conflicts informally before pursuing grievance or complaint procedures. Students are encouraged to talk with faculty or staff members or to write letters to seek resolution of their concerns. In some cases, however, the College acknowledges that such action may be intimidating and/or ineffective when a student believes that a College faculty or staff member has not acted according to policies outlined in this publication or any other official publication of Anna Maria College. In those cases, any Anna Maria student, including undergraduate or graduate degree candidates, may pursue the complaint procedures described in the Anna Maria College Student Handbook to resolve concerns involving faculty or staff.