USU-Online State Authorizations
Utah is a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and Utah State University (USU) is an approved SARA institution, which means we adhere to established standards for offering post-secondary e-learning programs in all member states.
All USU fully online programs are currently authorized in all states; however there may be restrictions in certain non-SARA states regarding internships and practicums.
Per federal law, students who have complaints against the school relating to fraud, false advertising, or other deceptive practices can report their complaints to Utah State University by following the Student Complaint Process.
What is State Authorization
State authorization is a legal term for a college's compliance with individual statutes and regulations in each state in which it operates, has a physical presence, or engages in educational services and programs. In 2016, Utah joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and USU was approved as a SARA institution in October 2016. We follow the established standards for offering post-secondary distance education among member states, and participation in SARA is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions with a primary campus in another state.
What does this mean to me?
State authorization refers to the processes institutions must follow to ensure all legislative requirements are met in all states where USU students are located. USU is a SARA approved institution and follows the required guidelines. For more information about SARA, please visit the SARA website.
For students interested in nutrition/dietetics, teacher education, or other academic programs that lead to professional licensure, it is imperative you understand the regulations for your state PRIOR to enrolling in any academic program. For your convenience, please check on the licensing requirements for the state where you will seek employment. If you experience difficulty finding the licensure requirements for a specific state, please contact the program's advisor for help.
Utah State University works to provide global access to its online programs. While we carefully track issues related to international authorization and licensure, it is the student’s responsibility to understand current circumstances or special requirements of whether the online degree selected will be recognized in the country of residence; how the collection of student data may be used in your country; and, whether you will be subject to additional withholding taxes in addition to the price of tuition. International students considering an academic program that leads to a professional license should first confirm with the appropriate professional licensing board in their country of residence whether a USU degree is recognized when seeking licensure or certification.
Faculty & Staff
- State authorization applies to any university activity that occurs outside of Utah, and can include regular activities such as recruiting, advertising, internships/practicums, or field experience.
- State authorization regulations apply to all out-of-state university activities, regardless of whether a program is available online.
- Regulations on out-of-state activities vary from state to state, and from program to program. While some states require any activity conducted by an out-of-state institution grounds to seek authorization, many states apply conditional rules, known as "physical presence triggers."
- As with most state authorization issues, these triggers are dependent on the type of program, duration of activity, state of residence for the student, and other factors that must be evaluated individually to determine whether authorization will be required.
- The resources below are intended to provide departments and faculty with basic information regarding USU’s authorization status (including approved, exempted, or triggering activities) in other states and should be used as guidelines. Please verify authorization prior to all out-of-state activities. Regulations and requirements can change quickly, and the E-Learning office can provide you with the most current information.
What is SARA
Utah joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in 2016, and USU became a SARA approved institution in October 2016. This means certain USU activities are allowed in all listed SARA states. This agreement among member states establishes comparable national standards for interstate offerings of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts, and more information can be found at http://www.nc-sara.org/.
SARA defines the following as "physical presence" triggers within SARA states.
- Establishes a physical location for students to receive synchronous or asynchronous instruction.
- Requires students to physically meet in a location for instructional purposes more than twice per full term (quarter or semester) course for a total of more than six hours.
- Establishes an administrative office.
- Provides information to students for the purpose of enrolling students, or provides student support services, from a physical site operated by or on behalf of the institution in the state.
- Offers a “short course” that requires more than 20 contact hours.
- Provides office space to instructional or non-instructional staff.
- Maintains a mailing address or phone exchange in a state.
The following activities do NOT trigger "physical presence" within SARA states.
- Offering courses to individuals via distance education in ways that do not require students to gather physically in groups, excepting the special provisions in Section 6(1);
- Advertising to students whether through print, billboard, direct mail, internet, radio, television or other medium;
- Offering distance education courses on a military base if enrollment in such courses is limited to federal employees and family members;
- Maintaining a server, router or similar electronic service device housed in a facility that otherwise would not constitute physical presence (the presence of a server or similar pass-through switching device does not by itself constitute the offering of a course or program in that state).
- Having faculty, adjunct faculty, mentors, tutors, or other academic personnel residing in a member state (the presence of instructional faculty in a state, when those faculty teach entirely via distance-education and never meet their students in person, does not establish physical presence for purposes of this agreement).
- Holding proctored exams on behalf of the institution in the host state.
- Having contractual arrangements in the home or host state.
- Offering educational field experiences for students, including an educational field trip arranged for a group of students that are normally in residence at an institution in another state.
- Operating limited supervised field experiences (or internship). For purposes of this agreement, interstate supervised field experiences originating from campus-based programs in a member state are considered to be distance education and not to establish physical presence if they place fewer than ten students from each program in a member state who are physically present simultaneously at a single facility or site in a host state, and do not involve any multi-year contract between a sending institution and a field site.
Currently, physical presence triggers in non-SARA states include:
|State||Advertising Trigger||Internship Trigger|
|Florida, Massachusetts||Yes, Systematic and targeted advertising may trigger the need for approval||No|
Policy for Student Complaints and Grievances
Students who have a complaint against Utah State University should first file a complaint with the institution by following the institution's complaint process. The student code of conduct is found at studentconduct.usu.edu/studentcode/, see Article VII, Section VII-2 and Section VII-3. If Utah State University does not resolve the complaint, students may file a complaint with the Utah Board of Regents at www.higheredutah.org/sara. The Board of Regents will only consider complaints that were previously unresolved by the institution and may refer a complaint to another agency for investigation.
Students who have complaints against the college/university relating to fraud, false advertising, or other deceptive practices can file a complaint with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection, 160 East 300 East, 2nd Floor, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, Telephone No. 801-530-6601, Toll Free in Utah at 1-800-721-SAFE or online at www.dcp.utah.gov/complaints/index.html. In addition, students involved with distance and correspondence education can file a complaint with their state's enforcement authority, found at https://wcetsan.wiche.edu/resources/student-complaint-information-state-and-agency .
Students who have complaints relating to the college/university's quality of education or other issues appropriate for its accrediting body to consider, can file a complaint with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities at www.nwccu.org, click the Complaint Process link.
Students in California
Complaints may be directed to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, Department of Consumer Affairs through their online form available here:
Students in Maryland
Utah State University is registered with the Maryland Higher Education Commission, and is subject to investigation of complaints by the Office of the Attorney General of the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Complaints may be directed to:
Consumer Protection Division
Office of the Attorney General
200 Saint Paul Place
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
More information is available at: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/complaint.htm