Policy Title: Out-of-State Academic Activities

Responsible Office: Academic Affairs
Policy Officer: Chief Academic Officer
Scope:
|Faculty |Staff |Student

Approved By: President's Council

Approved Date: 1/27/2021

Effective Date: 1/27/2021

Category: Institutional


Description/Purpose:

As an institution that participates in federal financial aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, Saint Francis University is committed to fully complying with federal regulations regarding state authorization as well as all requirements issued by States regarding the operation of higher education institutions within their jurisdictions. This policy is intended to address certain federal regulations, specifically 34 CFR 600.9, 34 CFR 668.43, and the rules of the National Council of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA).

This policy therefore:

  1. Defines the offices, departments, and personnel responsible for ensuring the University’s compliance with laws, regulations, and agreements related to State Authorization;
  2. Establishes governance and communication structures necessary to maintain State Authorization compliance; and 
  3. Empowers University offices, departments, and/or personnel described herein to expect cooperative assistance from other University offices, departments, and/or personnel in order to comply with State Authorization laws, regulations, and agreements.

This policy does not govern the University's compliance with laws, regulations, and agreements pertaining to issues beyond state authorization.

Scope:

This policy applies to all administration, faculty, and staff.

Details:

DEFINITIONS:

Authorized: Term used to describe academic activities, programs, etc. that may legally be offered in a given jurisdiction. In order to be considered "authorized," the activity must fulfill all regulatory requirements placed on it, be exempt from regulation, or a combination of both by all agencies responsible for regulating it within a given jurisdiction.

Distance Education: Instruction offered by any means where the student and faculty member are in separate physical locations. It includes, but is not limited to, online, interactive video and correspondence courses or programs as well as experiential learning opportunities.

Operate: Academic and business activities conducted by an institution in support of offering Distance Education degree or non-degree courses or programs in a State, including but not limited to instruction, marketing, recruiting, tutoring, supervised field experiences, experiential learning placements, out-of-state learning placements, and other student support services.

Out-of-State Learning Placement (OOSLP): Experiential learning placements such as, but not limited to, internships, clinical rotations, fieldwork or student teaching experiences offered outside of the institution's home State. The University is required to report the number of OOSLPs to NC-SARA on an annual  basis as a condition of SARA participation.

Professional Licensure Program: A certificate, undergraduate minor, undergraduate degree, or graduate degree program intended to (or advertised to) satisfy educational prerequisites for a state-issued professional license, certification, or other credential offered by a third party.

Regulated Activities: Out-of-state activities that are regulated by State agencies that license postsecondary institutions and/or boards that oversee professions and result in approval or reporting requirements. Such activities may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Credit-bearing educational activities (e.g., online or hybrid courses or programs, experiential learning opportunities, fieldtrips);
  2. Non-credit educational activities (e.g., online courses); and
  3. Related business activities (e.g., advertising, recruiting, proctoring, operating at a physical location outside of Pennsylvania, third party contracts, faculty or staff residing outside of Pennsylvania).

SARA: The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, commonly known as SARA, is an agreement among member states that authorizes an institution located and legally authorized in a State covered by the agreement to provide out-of-state activities to students located in other states covered by the agreement. Institutions that participate in SARA agree to abide by a set of quality expectations, reporting requirements, and consumer protection practices that are promulgated by the National Council of State Authorization Agreements (NC-SARA) and upon which member States have agreed. SARA does not affect the applicability of general-purpose State laws such as business registries, general-purpose consumer protection laws, worker's compensation laws, criminal statutes and the like. SARA does not affect State professional licensing requirements. Additional authorization may be required in SARA-member States if the University conducts certain activities not covered by SARA Rules.

SARA Rule: A written statement promulgated by NC-SARA that is of general applicability; implements, interprets or prescribes a policy of SARA or provides an organizational, procedural, or other requirement of NC-SARA, including policies contained in the SARA Manual.

State: A State of the Union, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.

State Authorization: Term used to describe the requirement that an institution be legally authorized or exempt in any State in which it operates. The triad of oversight includes:

  1. State agencies that regulate post-secondary education providers;
  2. Boards that regulate licensed professions; and
  3. U.S. Department of Education regulations (e.g., 34 CFR Part 600 and 34 CFR Part 668).

Supervised Field Experience: A student learning experience comprised primarily of the practical application of previously studied theories and skills, under the oversight of a supervisor, mentor, faculty member or other qualified professional who has a direct or indirect reporting responsibility to the Institution where the student is enrolled, whether or not credit is granted. The Supervised Field Experience is part of a program of study and may include internships, clinical, fieldwork, and student teaching experiences. Independent off-campus study by individual students not engaged in a Supervised Field Experience is exempt from requirements of SARA and does not constitute a physical presence of a postsecondary institution in a Sara-member State.

POLICY STATEMENT:

  1. Federal regulations require a postsecondary educational institution to be legally authorized in any state in which it operates, a concept referred to as "state authorization."
  2. In order for SFU to engage in any Regulated Activities, the institution must follow the State laws of the State where the activity takes place and must obtain any necessary authorization in order to operate in that jurisdiction prior to conducting the activity.
  3. SFU is in a continuous process to monitor regulations in States in which it operates.
  4. In order to expand the number of jurisdictions and conditions in which the institution is authorized, SFU will maintain its status as a participant in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA). SFU was approved to participate in the SARA initiative by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) effective January 1, 2017. To maintain its status, SFU will:
    1. Re-apply and pay the required fees annually to NC-SARA and its home state portal entity (Pennsylvania Department of Education);
    2. Annually report data to NC-SARA on the location of online students and the number of Out-of-State Learning Placements in all States. Educational activity under SARA policies is deemed to occur where the student is physically located at the time the student is in contact with the educational provider (Refer to Student Location Policy);
    3. Provide information and make disclosures in accordance with SARA Rules;
    4. Disclose the University and SARA student complaint resolution policies and procedures to all students taking courses under SARA policies as required by 34 CFR 668.41;
    5. Abide by the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (C-RAC Guidelines) as required by SARA Rules.
  5. SFU will, upon request, document the State's approval or SARA coverage to the U.S. Secretary of Education as required by 34 CFR 600.9(c)(1).
  6. In non-SARA States, the University is required to obtain approval or exemption prior to engaging in Regulated Activities in those jurisdictions, pursuant to state law or regulation.
  7. University departments whose Regulated Activities, related to a professional licensure program, may be regulated by a professional board will, prior to engaging in that activity in that State, work with the Director of Academic Compliance to determine whether authorization for that activity is required by the board -- in SARA-member or non-SARA States -- and obtain authorization or exemption for that activity if required.
  8. Compliance also includes specific disclosures institutions must make to prospective and enrolled students related to its academic offerings and professional licensure programs (Refer to Professional Licensure Disclosures Policy).
  9. Because SFU must know the students' physical location in order to maintain aware of its Regulated Activities and for SARA data reporting purposes, SFU will request and record this information each semester a student is enrolled (Refer to Student Location Policy).

Roles and Responsibilities:

  1. Director of Academic Compliance
    1. Consults with and supports departments engaging in Regulated Activities;
    2. Educates departments, in collaboration with the state authorization liaison, regarding state authorization requirements for conducting Regulated Activities outside of Pennsylvania;
    3. Collects, analyzes, and reports data, in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Research and state authorization liaisons, to fulfill annual reporting requirements;
    4. Seeks and maintains all necessary approvals or exemptions to operate in U.S. States outside of Pennsylvania in cooperation with the academic department;
    5. Maintains all records and communications relevant to state authorization;
    6. Maintains and publishes University state authorization approval or exemption status and required consumer disclosures on the state authorization website;
    7. Reports to the Office of Financial Aid any changes in status to any distance education program or state approval or exemption, including additions, deletions, and/or changes in approval or exemption status;
    8. Informs state authorization liaisons, departments, and University leadership of State actions against the University, state or federal regulatory changes, NC-SARA policy changes, and the impact on current approvals or exemptions.
  2. Undergraduate Admissions and Graduate Admissions Personnel
    1. Should be familiar with the University's approval status in States outside of Pennsylvania when considering applications for admission to any online program or enrollment in online courses;
    2. Are responsible for communication with prospective students in accordance with the University's Professional Licensure Disclosures policy.
  3. State Authorization Liaisons
    1. Will include faculty and staff representatives (from each academic school, Financial Aid, and Business Office at minimum), appointed by the dean or vice president, to serve as the point of contact for their department;
    2. Educate their department or school regarding state authorization requirements for Regulated Activities;
    3. Determine department-specific action plans for Regulated Activities;
    4. Collect and report data to the Director of Academic Compliance to fulfill reporting requirements.
  4. Academic Departments or Schools
    1. Should be familiar with Regulated Activities by State and consult with their state authorization liaison prior to engaging in Regulated Activities in States outside of Pennsylvania;
    2. Seeks approval or exemption, when applicable and in accordance with State professional licensing board administrative rules or policies, prior to engaging in any out-of-state Regulated Activities in connection with a Professional Licensure Program;
    3. Provides the State professional licensing board approval or exemption letters to the Director of Academic Compliance upon receipt;
    4. Investigates rules of professional licensing boards for any Professional Licensure Program in order to determine whether completion of that academic program, regardless of modality, would be sufficient to meet licensure requirements in each State in accordance with federal regulation 34 CFR 668.43(a)(5)(v) and the University's Professional Licensure Disclosures Policy;
    5. Are responsible for communication with enrolled students in accordance with the University's Professional Licensure Disclosures policy;
    6. Communicate effectively with Director of Academic Compliance regarding decisions and actions being taken.
  5. Faculty and Staff
    1. Report Regulated Activities they plan to conduct outside of Pennsylvania to their state authorization liaison in order for the University to seek and obtain the necessary approvals or exemptions in the State if it has not already done so.


RELATED RESOURCES:

34 CFR 668.41

34 CFR Part 668.43

34 CFR Part 600.4

https://nc-sara-org

Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (C-RAC Guidelines)

RELATED POLICIES:

Student Complaint Resolution Policy

Student Location Policy

Professional Licensure Disclosures Policy

APPROVAL:

President's Council: 01-27-2021

 

 

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