Polk State Joins National Distance Education Agreement

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Polk State College is now a participating member of the Florida-State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (FL-SARA), part of a national collaboration that expands online learning options for students and significantly reduces the costs for institutions to provide distance learning opportunities beyond state lines.

In November, Florida became the 48th state to join the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), which establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance-education courses and programs. Florida’s agreement is implemented by one of NC-SARA’s four regional higher education interstate compacts – the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).

“Offering additional educational options across state lines will increase the likelihood of students completing their degrees and becoming employed,” Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance Education Commission for Independent Education in Florida Director Morgan Champion said in a November press release. “We are thankful for the opportunity to join the other 47 states in this effort.”

NC-SARA aims to make it easier for students to take online courses from institutions in other states and lessens the costs for institutions to provide those students with distance learning by centralizing the authorization process.

The Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance Education Coordinating Council (PRDECC) recently approved Polk State’s application to participate in FL-SARA, along with those of 61 other Florida institutions. As an approved FL-SARA institution, Polk State is able to operate in other participating SARA states without seeking independent authorization.

“This will allow students residing outside of the State of Florida to enroll in Polk State’s online courses and programs, while also allowing Polk State to serve those students at a lower cost to the institution by streamlining the process to offer distance-learning courses to students located in other NC-SARA states,” said Donald Painter, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. “It’s a win-win for the students and the College.”

Polk State serves more than 1,300 fully online students a year with a growing population in other states and in the military. Polk State has exceeded its goal of improving student success in its online learning environment over the last seven years with strategies, such as providing targeted support services to online students and by providing professional development for faculty who teach online courses.

“Joining FL-SARA aligns with Polk State’s mission to provide access to quality higher education and is a collaborative, innovative way for institutions to expand opportunities for students,” President Angela Garcia Falconetti said. “Polk State is excited and honored to be part of this national effort, which will not only benefit individuals right here in Polk County but also students across the country.”