Out-of-State Academic Activity

University Policy: 

I.          Purpose and Scope

The scope of UNC Charlotte’s institutional impact and activity extends far beyond the North Carolina state border.  States have a right to regulate educational entities operating within their jurisdictions, and UNC Charlotte intends to comply with regulations in states in which it conducts activity.  Federal regulations specifically require institutions that offer Out-of-State Academic Activity to be authorized to do so by the states in which their students are located. Compliance with these regulations, which also include specific disclosures institutions must make, is a requirement for access to Title IV funds.

UNC Charlotte is a complex organization. This complexity makes it difficult to maintain awareness of all the regulated activities in which it engages outside of North Carolina, which, in turn, requires extensive internal coordination in order to continue compliance in all the jurisdictions in which it operates. To ensure continued compliance with out-of-state regulations, the University must first define the roles, responsibilities, relationships, and lines of communication that enable the required internal coordination.

This Policy therefore:

  1. Outlines the offices 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 institutional bodies, offices, and/or personnel described herein to expect cooperative assistance from other institutional bodies, offices, 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.

II.   Definitions

  1. Authorized - Term used to describe educational activities, programs, etc. that may legally be offered in a given jurisdiction.  In order to be considered “Authorized,” institutional activity must fulfill all regulatory requirements placed upon it, be exempt from regulation, or a combination of both by all agencies responsible for regulating it within a given jurisdiction.  If an activity regulated by more than one agency in a state is Authorized by one agency but not by another, the activity is considered “Not Authorized” for that state, and the University will implement an action plan that ensures the institution avoids engaging in that activity in that state until full authorization is obtained.
  2. Out-of-State Academic Activity – Includes both distance education—instruction offered by any means where the student and faculty member are in separate physical locations, including, but not limited to, online, interactive video or correspondence courses or programs—and experiential learning opportunities, as well as recruiting and promotion for academic activities.
  3. Pathway to Licensure – A certificate or degree-granting program, undergraduate minor, or continuing education certificate program intended to satisfy educational prerequisites for a state-issued professional license or other credential offered by a third party.
  4. Plan of Action - Detailed list of actions to be taken in order to achieve a stated outcome.  Plans will include:
    1. Rationale for the action(s);
    2. Name of the person, office or role responsible for each action item;
    3. Time frames within which the action is expected to be completed;
    4. Acknowledgement of the effects the plan may have on stakeholders along with a list of actions to be taken in order to mitigate expected negative effects as much as possible; and
    5. Strategy for communicating the plan to stakeholders.
  5. SAN – Acronym for State Authorization Network.  There are two SANs in which UNC Charlotte currently participates:
    1. a nationwide SAN led by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technology (WCET) and
    2. a listserv comprised of State Authorization managers from UNC System schools.
  6. SARA - Acronym for the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, the mechanism by and conditions under which member states have chosen to treat as Authorized to operate within their own jurisdictions those post-secondary educational institutions that have been deemed qualified by other member states.  Just as reciprocity among states allows drivers licensed in one state to drive in all states, SARA allows Out-of-State Academic Activity providers Authorized in one member state to operate (within the limits of the agreement) in other member states.  Institutions that participate in SARA agree to abide by a set of quality expectations, reporting requirements, and consumer protection best practices that are promulgated by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and upon which member states have agreed.
  7. SARA North Carolina (SARA-NC) – North Carolina's State Portal Entity, the organization to which UNC Charlotte applies and from which it seeks renewal in order to participate in SARA.
  8. State Authorization - Refers to all forms of regulatory oversight exercised by states and/or territories over activities conducted within their jurisdictions by post-secondary educational institutions domiciled in another state or territory. It includes oversight by
    1. state agencies that regulate post-secondary education providers;
    2. boards that regulate licensed professions; and
    3. the U.S. Department of Education when its regulations support, supplement, or standardize states’ regulation of post-secondary providers operating within but domiciled beyond their geographical jurisdictions (e.g., 34 CFR Parts 600 and 668). 

Activities regulated differ from state to state.

  1. Regulated Activities - Out-of-State Academic Activities that are regulated by state agencies that license postsecondary education providers 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 and/or blended programs or courses, experiential learning opportunities);
    2. Non-credit educational activities (e.g., online continuing education); and
    3. Related business activities (e.g., advertising, recruiting, proctoring, operating at a physical location outside North Carolina, third party agreements or contracts, faculty or staff residing outside North Carolina).

III. Policy and Principles

  1. UNC Charlotte will engage in Regulated Activities where and only when it is properly Authorized to do so.
  2. In order to maximize the number of jurisdictions and conditions in which the institution is Authorized, UNC Charlotte will maintain its status as a participant in SARA. In order to do so, the University will
    1. Re-apply and pay required fees annually,
    2. Report data as required by SARA,
    3. Provide information and make disclosures as required by SARA,
    4. Address complaints as required by SARA, and
    5. Abide by the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (C-RAC Guidelines) as required by SARA.
  3. UNC Charlotte will obtain authorizations in non-SARA states as necessary so that the University can engage in planned Regulated Activities in that jurisdiction.
  4. UNC Charlotte units whose out-of-state Regulated Activities may be regulated by a professional board will, prior to engaging in that activity in that state, determine whether authorization for that activity is required by the board, and obtain authorization for that activity if required.
  5. If the University is unable or unwilling to obtain authorizations required for a particular Regulated Activity or in a particular jurisdiction, UNC Charlotte will develop and implement an action plan that delineates the limitations on the institution’s Out-of-State Academic Activities and communicates these limitations throughout the institution.
  6. Because the University must know students' physical location in order to maintain awareness of its Regulated Activities, UNC Charlotte will request and record this information each semester a student is enrolled.

IV. Roles and Responsibilities

A.    Out-of-State Academic Activity Coordinating Council

The Coordinating Council provides the internal coordination, communication, and controls necessary to maintain compliance in all the jurisdictions in which UNC Charlotte operates.

Membership of the Coordinating Council includes:

  1. Senior Associate Provost
  2. Chief Compliance Officer
  3. Director of Distance Education
  4. Director of Continuing Education
  5. College Representatives
  6. Undergraduate Admissions Office representative
  7. Graduate Admissions Office representative
  8. State Authorization Manager/SARA Liaison

The Coordinating Council may also require the assistance of other offices including but not limited to: Career Center, Center for Teaching and Learning, Accreditation and Assessment, Financial Aid, Registrar, Student Accounts, Faculty Council, OneIT, and University Communications.

Specific responsibilities of the Coordinating Council are detailed in Appendix A.

B.    College Representatives

Each college that either (a) offers one or more programs in an online or blended format or (b) offers one or more Pathways to Licensure or other credential should identify one employee to serve as the college's representative. Specific responsibilities of the College Representatives are detailed in Appendix A.

C.  Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions Representatives

The Offices of Undergraduate Admissions and Graduate Admissions are responsible for prospective student communication as detailed in the Inventory of Required Disclosures.

D.    State Authorization Manager/SARA Liaison

The Office of Distance Education will assign an employee to serve as the University's State Authorization Manager/SARA Liaison. Specific responsibilities of the State Authorization Manager/SARA Liaison are detailed in Appendix A.

Revision History: 

Initially approved November 21, 2019

Authority: Chancellor

Responsible Office: Academic Affairs

Related Resources: