State Authorization Compliance

Federal and state regulations require that all institutions of higher education comply with existing state laws regarding distance learning. As these regulations are continuously evolving, East Carolina University makes every effort to maintain compliance where feasible. ECU has developed a network of universities, state regulators, and public interest groups to make the most informed decisions about compliance issues. ECU works with the regulatory agencies in each state and US Territories to seek authorizations, exemptions or permissions to continue to offer distance education programs, courses and certificate programs to residents who wish to enroll in our distance learning education programs.

  • Federal and State Regulations on 'State Authorization' of Distance Education

  • State Authorization for Distance Education Programs and Students

    All U.S. States require post-secondary educational institutions to be legally 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. As such, East Carolina University and its online/distance educations programs must be authorized in certain states prior to offering those courses or programs to students residing in those states. The purpose of this policy is to create a ECU process to comply with any state authorization requirements applicable to ECU online/distance education programs.

  • State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

    The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a national initiative to provide more access to online courses while maintaining compliance standards with state regulatory agencies. SARA allows institutions to provide online courses outside of their own state borders by seeking and maintaining state approvals via a streamlined process. To learn more about SARA, please visit:

    On June 13, 2016, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) approved the State of North Carolina to join SARA. On November 14, 2016, the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and the NC State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) approved institutional participation for East Carolina University. NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education.

    Current authorized SARA member states include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Florida has been approved as a SARA state effective October 2017. Massachusetts has signed the bill allowing participation in SARA.
    California is not a SARA state.

    NC-SARA Complaint Information can be found at:

    Professional Licensure
    Important Note for Students: If you are considering an online academic program that leads to a professional license, it is highly recommended you contact the appropriate licensing agency where you plan to receive instruction before beginning your academic program. SARA does not provide reciprocity for state professional licensing requirements. Academic programs and individual graduates must meet standards set by that state's licensure requirements in order for a graduate to be eligible for a license.

  • Important Note to Residents outside North Carolina

    Admission of applicants outside the State of North Carolina to an online degree, certificate or individual online course offered by East Carolina University, is dependent on ECU's ability to secure authorization from the applicant's state of residence, if such authorization is required.

    East Carolina University delivers online education programs and courses throughout the United States and internationally. All programs have been approved by the University of North Carolina General Administration. Many states have prescribed an "authorization" process for out-of-state institutions delivering online programs to its state residents to ensure quality post-secondary education, to preserve the integrity of an academic degree, and to instill greater consumer protection for its student citizens.

    East Carolina University has taken steps to protect its students and operations through nationwide compliance: by participation in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA); obtaining authorization, approval, exemptions and waivers; or confirming that East Carolina University can operate without such authorization because the state's laws do not pertain to a public institution, to an accredited institution, or to the ECU's activities in that state.

    As of November 14, 2016, East Carolina University is approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. Institutions that are members of SARA are authorized to provide online education to students from all SARA member states. States and institutions that choose to become members of SARA operate under a set of policies and standards overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements and administered by four regional higher education compacts. For more information about the SARA initiative and the progress of state and institutional membership.

    Because authorization is an evolving area, please check this site again for the latest statement from ECU.

    For questions or concerns specific to the state authorization process, contact us at

  • Contact Information for Filing Complaints

    East Carolina University provides several means which a student may address complaints and grievances. Students are advised to put their concerns in writing and carefully document the events that led to the complaint or grievance. students are advised to contact the Dean of Students Office for advice on which procedure to follow. Concerns should be expressed as soon as possible after the event occurs; some of the procedures below have specific deadlines for filing grievances or complaints.

    If a complaint cannot be resolved after exhausting East Carolina University's procedure described above, the student may file a complaint with the following agencies:

    1. North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints, c/o Student Complaints, University of North Carolina General Administration, 910 Raleigh Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2688 Telephone (919) 962-4550 You may also contact UNC General Administration to NC Post-Secondary Education Student Complaints for further details.

    Please review the NC Post-Secondary Education Student Complaint Policy (PDF), print and complete the NC Post-Secondary Education Complaint Form (PDF). Please submit the complaint to the address above.

    To file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice, please visit the State Attorney General's web page at: North Carolina residents may call (877) 566-7226. Outside of North Carolina, please call (919) 716-6000. En Espanol (919) 716-0058. If you choose to mail a complaint, please use the following address: Consumer Protection Division, Attorney General's Office, Mail Service Center 9001, Raleigh, NC 27699-9001

    2. Regional Accreditor (SACSCOC), SACSCOC Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Student Complaints, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097 Telephone 404.679.4500 If a student has evidence that an institution is in significant non-compliance with SACSCOC standards, policies, or procedures, the individual should inform SACSCOC using the Complaints Against Institutions: Information Sheet and Form.

    3. If you are residing outside of North Carolina while attending ECU, in many cases you can file a complaint in the state where you are residing. As required by federal regulations, we direct you to ECU's list of state agencies for filing student complaints.

    4. Students not residing in North Carolina and enrolled in a North Carolina institution that operates under SARA North Carolina may submit complaints to NCSEAA only after completing the complaint process established by the institution attended by the student. We direct you to SARA-North Carolina and to the Complaint Process page.
    SARANC Complaint Form

    SARA North Carolina -- North Caroline State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA),
    P.O. Box 14103, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, T: (855) SARA-1-NC (727-2162)
    T: (919) 549-8614, ext. 4667, Website:, Email:

  • Institutional Disclosures for Enrolled and Prospective Students.

    § 668.43 (b) Institutional Information: The institution must make available for review to any enrolled or prospective student upon request, a copy of the documents describing the institution's accreditation and its State, Federal, or tribal approval or licensing. The institution must also provide its students or prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accreditor and with its State approval or licensing entity and any other relevant State official or agency that would appropriately handle a student's complaint.
    As required by the Department of Education and the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), we direct you to the Institutional Disclosures and Student Complaint Information

  • Professional Licensure Disclosure Statement

    All applicable ECU academic programs prepare students to sit for licensure in North Carolina. In order to comply with U.S. Department of Education regulations regarding distance education and professional licensure ECU is required to make the following disclosure with respect to professional licensure outside the state of North Carolina. ECU cannot confirm whether a particular program meets requirements for professional licensure outside of the State of North Carolina. Please contact applicable licensure board(s) in any state you may want to pursue licensure prior to beginning the academic program in order to determine whether the program meets licensure requirements. It is the student's responsibility to confirm program eligibility for licensure in any state outside North Carolina.