State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)
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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.
Bristol Community 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.
Bristol Community College was approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to participate in SARA, and became a SARA institution in November 2019. At this time, only California is not a member state. If you reside in California and are interested in taking an online class at Bristol, please contact Admissions at 774.357.2947 or Admissions@BristolCC.edu.
For Massachusetts Residents and Online Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories
After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by Bristol Community College, located at Student Complaints, if your complaint has not been resolved, you may file a consumer complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education 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 Bristol Community College, located at Student Complaints, if your complaint has not been resolved, you may file a complaint with the DHE by using the SARA complaint form. 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.
College Closure and Disaster Recovery Plan
Bristol Community College has established policies that ensure the protection and security of student academic records. The Registrar’s office at Bristol maintains in perpetuity the confidentiality, integrity, and security of all physical student academic records in its on-campus office and all digital records are maintained and secured in accordance with the Colleges’ Acceptable Use Policy and in conformance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Statewide Records Retention Schedule.
Consistent with the NECHE standards and other State and Federal requirements, the College regularly updates its disaster planning and recovery policies and procedures as described in the Written Information Security Program (WISP).
Safeguarding Student Records in the Event of College Closure
In the event of institutional closure, Bristol Community College, arrangements would be made with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (Mass DHE) and the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NECHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to secure records and afford students access to their records. The institution would comply with all requirements including:
- NECHE’s Considerations When Closing and Institution of Higher Education
- NECHE’s recommendations for Teach-Out Plans and Teach-Out Agreements
- Mass DHE’s Massachusetts Board of Higher Education’s Institutional Closure requirements
- Mass DHE’s Records from Closed Institutions for transcripts and diploma information.
Questions or concerns regarding this policy should be directed to Bristol Online or to Information Technology Services.