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May 29, 2012


CSG, The Presidents' Forum Unveil Distance Learning Agreement

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement Addresses Online Higher Education

LEXINGTON, Ky.—The Council of State Governments and The Presidents’ Forum recently released a draft model interstate agreement aimed at reducing barriers to distance learning by making it more efficient for colleges and universities to offer classes across state lines. Project leadership for the model agreement, known as the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, is working with the existing higher education regional compacts to promote a unified approach to achieving interstate reciprocity.


CSG, The Presidents’ Forum, and a drafting team comprised of state regulators and key stakeholders developed the model agreement with financial support provided by the Lumina Foundation for Education.


The reciprocity agreement seeks to ensure that member states have regulatory approval processes for online higher education institutions that meet high quality, shared academic standards. It also shifts the responsibility for authorization and continuing oversight to the home state of the institution. Once a college or university receives approval in its home state, it will not need to seek separate approval in other member states. The ultimate goals are to save institutions from having to go through multiple and costly approval processes, and reduce the duplicative workload and costs carried by the respective states, while also increasing student access to high quality distance learning opportunities.


“An agreement such as this has the potential to dramatically reshape the regulatory review and approval process for colleges and universities operating outside their home state,” said Marshall Hill, executive director of the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education. “It also has the potential to save states and institutions time, effort and money, while supporting academic quality.”

The model language of the agreement also is expected to outline the roles and responsibilities of an interstate governing board, the rule-making process, and the methods by which disputes and consumer complaints will be resolved.


CSG and The Presidents’ Forum released the draft agreement during a presentation earlier this month at the National Association of State Administrators and Supervisors of Private Schools annual conference. CSG and The Presidents’ Forum also have convened public hearings to provide opportunities for the higher education communities to comment on the model.


The drafting team will meet again in late June to review comments and finalize the model’s content. Project leadership anticipates completing the reciprocity model by the end of this year for the purpose of initiating broad consideration by policy makers.


To review the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement working draft, please click here. Comments on the draft may be submitted by email to Crady deGolian, director of CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts, at cdegolian@csg.org.



The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.