State Authorization of Distance Education Programs
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Accreditation

  • The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited to award baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctorate degrees.by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
  • Contact the Commission on Colleges for questions about the accreditation of the University of Southern Mississippi:
    • By Mail- 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or
    • Call 404.679.4500

Complaint Resolution

  • The University of Southern Mississippi desires to resolve student complaints, grievances,  and concerns in an expeditious, fair and amicable manner.
  • Students with an academic concern are encouraged to visit The University’s Dean of Students page.
  • All students who are seeking to resolve grievances that were not previously resolved based on communications between the parties involved can file a grievance under the USM’s Student Grievance Policy.
  • Students residing outside of the State of Mississippi while attending USM who have already exhausted all desire to resolve a grievance should follow the University’s Student Grievance Procedure .
  • Any issue that cannot be resolved internally that does not involve Grade Appeals or Conduct matters, can be addressed by having the individual file a complaint with their state.
  • To comply with the Higher Education Opportunities Act of 2008, institutions offering education must provide enrolled and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accrediting agency and with the appropriate state agency for handling complaints in the student’s state.
  • Clicking on any state in the list that begins near the bottom of this page displays the state agency responsible for complaints regarding out-of-state online education programs.

State Authorizations

In order to provide education to students residing in other states, higher education institutions must comply with the laws and regulations of the states.  These laws require a state providing distance education, which includes both online as well as supervised field experiences (i.e. clinicals, internships, externships, practicums) in other states, to obtain authorization in order to provide such education in another state. In addition to authorization within the state, an institution must also check with the state professional licensing boards to see if the programs that any program that they offer involving distance education is approved if approval is required within a state to offer such a program.   For additional information regarding licensure, please see the Licensure page.

Each state has specific laws and regulations that dictate whether or not the institution providing online education is eligible for a waiver due to not having triggered a physical presence, triggers a physical presence requiring authorization, or is a member of a reciprocity agreement that gives the institution the right to provide online education to students within other member states.

PHYSICAL PRESENCE

Whether or not a higher education institution engages in an action that triggers “physical presence” varies based on the laws of each specific state.  Among the activities considered in determining if physical presence is triggered are:

  • hosting short-term, face-to-face, seminars or conferences where students meet in person
  • experiential learning within the jurisdiction (field experience, clinical, internship, externship, practicum) organized by the institution
  • owning property within a state
  • recruiting done in an organized manner, consistently, and on-the-ground either by employees or agents of the institution
  • entering into contracts/agreements with an in-state institution or in-state entity to provide services for students (i.e. library, gym, computer centers, etc.)
  • requiring a student to take a proctored exam at a location or with an entity in the state selected by the institution
  • advertising in local media sources viewed by residents of the state
  • hiring online faculty who live in the state
  • employing mentors, tutors, or preceptors in the state to aid individual students who are residents of the state
  • Courses offered by instructors not residing in Mississippi cannot include face-to-face meetings with students in those other states.

If physical presence is triggered, the institution must become authorized in that state.

EXEMPTIONS:

  • If the activities of an institution do not create a “physical presence”, an exception may apply allowing the institution to provide education to students in the state without becoming authorized with the state based on their lack of physical presence.
    • The following list represent the types of scenarios that create exceptions, though exceptions vary on a state-by-state basis:
      • Religious organizations
      • Organizations accredited by an agency approved by the Department of Education
      • Non-degree granting programs
  • Please review the list of states below for more information concerning the University of Southern Mississippi’s compliance with this regulation and to obtain the contact information for the appropriate agency in the state where you reside.
  • We are evaluating and working to comply with the various requirements and are updating this page as additional information is received.
  • USM is currently exempt in both Wisconsin and Utah.

SREB

  • Certain states are signatories to SREB which permits USM to provide online education to students in those states, as long as the institution does not have a “physical presence” pursuant to the SREB Electronic Regional Reciprocity Agreement also known as SECRRA.
  • If an institution triggers physical presence in an SREB state, the institution will need to seek authorization from the state, as specifically noted in the Exclusions section of the SECRRA Memorandum of Agreement.

For a list of SREB states, please see the SREB Participating States webpage.

NC-SARA

  • National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) commonly known as SARA.
  • SARA represents a reciprocity agreement in which member states agree to grant each other the right to provide online education in other member states subject to agreed upon limitations.
  • Currently 37 states are members of SARA:
  • Mississippi became a member of NC-SARA on 1/1/16.
  • USM applied for and was accepted as a member of SARA on 3/31/16
  • USM is now able to offer distance education (both online and limited field experiences) to students in any SARA State as well as advertising and recruiting as long as we do not engage in any of the following activities within  member states:
    • Create a physical location for students to receive synchronous or asynchronous instruction;
    • Require students to physically meet in a location for instructional purposes more than twice per full-term (quarter or semester) course for a total of more than six hours;
    • Establish an administrative office;
    • Provide information to students for the purpose of enrolling students, or providing students support services, form a physical site operated by or on behalf of the intuition in the state;
    • Offer a “short course” that requires more than 20 contact hours in one six-month period;
    • Provide office space to instructional or non-instructional staff;
    • Maintain a mailing address or phone exchange in state;
    • Carry out field study or field research located a field station, research station or other physical site at which a faculty member or other institutional employee or contractor supervisors or otherwise directs two or more students in an activity exceeding the allowable short course length set forth in section 5.1 e and which either bears academic credit or is a requirement for a course or program.

Below, please find a list of each of the states and the status of our authorization in states we are seeking authorization or an explanation of states in which we are not required to seek authorization based on individual state statutes.  USM is authorized in all states listed as NC-SARA states as a member institution (see the Mississippi NC-SARA page)



  • SREB state
  • SARA state


Alabama Commission on Higher Education
PO Box 302000
Montgomery, AL  36130-2000
Complaint Form



  • SARA state


Alaska Commission on Post-secondary Education
PO Box 110505
Juneau, AK  99811-0505
Email

Alaska Office of Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
1031 W Fourth Ave., Ste. 200
Anchorage, AK  99501
Email
Complaint Form



  • SARA state


Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education
1400 W Washington St., Rm. 260
Phoenix, AZ  85007
Complaint Form



  • SREB state
  • SARA state


Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Arkansas Department of Higher Education
114 East Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR  72201
Email
Complaint Form

Arkansas State Board of Private Career Education
501 Woodlane, Ste. 312S
Little Rock, AR  72201
Email
Complaint Form



USM does not maintain a physical presence in the state.  Therefore, under the definition of physical presence applied by California as listed below, we are not required to become authorized:

Private postsecondary educational institution” means a private entity with a physical presence in this state that offers postsecondary education to the public for an institutional charge


California Bureau of Private Post-secondary Education
PO Box 980818
West Sacramento, CA  95798-0818
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


Colorado Department of Higher Education
1560 Broadway, Ste. 1600
Denver, CO  80202
Complaint Form



SARA state


Connecticut Department of Higher Education
61 Woodland St.
Hartford, CT  06105-2326
Email

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection
165 Capitol Ave., Rm. 110
Hartford, CT  06106
(800) 842-2649
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


Delaware Higher Education Office
Carvel State Office Building, 5th Floor
820 N French St.
Wilmington, DE  19801-3509
Email

Delaware Attorney General
Consumer Protection Wilmington
820 N French St., 5th floor
Wilmington, DE  19801
Email



  • SREB state
    • Assessing need for authorization based on physical trigger


Florida Commission on Independent Education
325 W. Gaines St., Suite 1414
Tallahassee, FL  32399-0400
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission
2082 E Exchange Pl., #220
Tucker, GA  30084-5334
Complaint Form



SARA state


Hawaii State Board of Education
PO Box 2360
Honolulu, HI  96804
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


Idaho State Board of Education
Attn: State Coordinator for Private Colleges and Proprietary Schools
650 W State St.
PO Box 83720
Boise, ID  83720-0037
Complaint Form



SARA state


Illinois Board of Higher Education
431 E Adams, 2nd Floor
Springfield, IL 62701-1404
(217) 557-7359
Email

Illinois State Board of Education
100 N 1st St.
Springfield, IL 62777
Complaint Form

Illinois Attorney General
Consumer Fraud Bureau
500 S Second St.
Springfield, IL 62706
Email
Complaint Form

 



SARA state


Indiana Commission on Proprietary Education
Attn: Director of Regulatory Compliance
302 W Washington St., Rm. E201
Indianapolis, IN  46204
Complaint Form



SARA state


Iowa Student Aid Commission
603 E 12th St., 5th Floor
Des Moines, IA  50319
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


Kansas Board of Regents
1000 SW Jackson St., Ste. 520
Topeka, KS  66612-1368
Complaint Form



SARA state


Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
1024 Capital Center Dr., #320
Frankfort, KY  40601-7512

Kentucky Board of Proprietary Education
911 Leawood Dr.
Frankfort, KY  40601-3319
Complaint Form

Office of the Attorney General
Capitol Suite 118
700 Capitol Ave.
Frankfort, KY  40601-3449
Complaint Form



SARA state


Louisiana Board of Regents
PO Box 3677
Baton Rouge, LA  70821-3677
Complaint Form



SARA state


Maine Department of Education
Complaint Investigator
23 State House Station
Augusta, ME  04333-0023
Email

Maine Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
6 State House Station
Augusta, ME  04333
Complaint Form



SARA state


Maryland Higher Education Commission
839 Bestgate Rd., Ste. 400
Annapolis, MD  21401-3013
Complaint Form

Maryland Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
200 St. Paul Pl.
Baltimore, MD  21202
(410) 528-8662
Email
Complaint Form



Not yet a SARA state.


Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
One Ashburton Place, Rm. 1401
Boston, MA  02108
Complaint Form



SARA state


Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth
Office of Postsecondary Services
Proprietary School Unit Staff
201 N Washington Sq.
Lansing, MI  48913
Complaint Form



SARA state


Minnesota Office of Higher Education
1450 Energy Park Dr., Ste. 350
St. Paul, MN  55108-5227
Email

Minnesota Attorney General’s Office
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota St.
St. Paul, MN  55101
Complaint Form



SARA state


Mississippi Commission on College Accreditation
3825 Ridgewood Rd.
Jackson, MS  39211-6453

Complaint Form

Mississippi Commission of Proprietary Schools and College Registration
3825 Ridgewood Rd.
Jackson, MS  39211-6453

Consumer Protection Division
Office of the Attorney General
State of Mississippi
PO Box 22947
Jackson, MS  39225-2947
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


Missouri Department of Higher Education
205 Jefferson St.
PO Box 1469
Jefferson City, MO  65102-1469
Complaint Form



SARA state


Montana Board of Regents
Office of Commissioner of Higher Education
Montana University System
2500 Broadway St.
PO Box 203201
Helena, MT  59620-3201

Montana Office of Consumer Protection
2225 11th Ave.
PO Box 200151
Helena, MT  59620-0151
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
PO Box 95005
Lincoln, NE  68509-5005

Nebraska Department of Education
Investigations Office
301 S Centennial Mall
PO Box 98987
Lincoln, NE  68509-4987
Complaint Form

Nebraska Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
2115 State Capitol
Lincoln, NE  68509
(800) 727-6432
Complaint Form



SARA state


Nevada Commission on Post-secondary Education
3663 E Sunset Rd., Ste. 202
Las Vegas, NV  89120
Complaint Form



SARA state


New Hampshire Postsecondary Education Commission
3 Barrell Ct., #300
Concord, NH  03301-8531
Complaint Form



SARA state


New Jersey Commission on Higher Education
PO Box 542
Trenton, NJ  08625
Email

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development
1 John Fitch Pl.
PO Box 110
Trenton, NJ  08625-0110
Email
Complaint Form

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs
124 Halsey St.
Newark, NJ  07102
Complaint Form



SARA state


New Mexico Higher Education Department
2048 Galisteo
Santa Fe, NM  87505
Complaint Form



SARA state


New York Office of College and University Evaluation
New York State Education Department
5 N Mezzanine
Albany, NY  12234
Email
Complaint Form

New York Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision
New York State Education Department
99 Washington Ave., Rm. 1613 OCP
Albany, NY  12234

New York State Department of State
Division of Consumer Protection
Consumer Assistance Unit
5 Empire State Plaza, Ste. 2101
Albany, NY  12223-1556
Complaint Form



SARA state


North Carolina Community College System Office of Proprietary Schools
200 W Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
Complaint Form

North Carolina Consumer Protection
Attorney General’s Office
Mail Service Center 9001
Raleigh, NC  27699-9001
Complaint Form



SARA state


North Dakota Department of Career and Technical Education
State Capitol – 15th Floor
600 E Boulevard Ave., Dept. 270
Bismarck, ND  58505-0610
Email

North Dakota Consumer Protection Division
Office of Attorney General
Gateway Professional Center
1050 E Interstate Ave., Ste. 200
Bismarck, ND  58503-5574
Complaint Form



SARA state


Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools
35 E Gay St., Ste. 403
Columbus, OH  43215-31388
Complaint Form

Ohio Board of Regents
30 E Broad St., 36th Floor
Columbus, OH  43215-3414

Ohio Attorney General
Consumer Protection Section
30 E Broad St., 14th Floor
Columbus, OH  43215-3400
Complaint Form



SARA state


Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
655 Research Pky., Ste. 200
Oklahoma City, OK  73104

Oklahoma State Board of Private Vocational Schools
3700 Classen Blvd., Ste. 250
Oklahoma City, OK  73118-2864

Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
Attn: Investigative Analyst
313 NE 21st St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73105
Complaint Form



SARA state


Oregon Office of Degree Authorization
1500 Valley River Dr., Ste. 100
Eugene, OR  97401

Oregon Department of Education
Private Career Schools Office
255 NE Capitol St.
Salem, OR  97310-0203
Complaint Form

Oregon Attorney General
Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section
1162 NE Court St.
Salem, OR  97301-4096
Complaint Form



SARA state


Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market St.
Harrisburg, PA  17126-0333

Office of Attorney General
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Strawberry Square, 14th Floor
Harrisburg, PA  17120
Complaint Form



Authorization is Pending


Puerto Rico Council on Higher Education
PO Box 1900
San Juan, PR  00910-1900

Puerto Rico Department of Justice
PO Box 9020192
San Juan, PR  00902-0192



SARA state


Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education
Shepard Building
80 Washington St.
Providence, RI  02903

Rhode Island Department of Attorney General
Consumer Protection Unit
150 S Main St.
Providence, RI  02903
Complaint Form



SARA state


South Carolina Commission on Higher Education
1333 Main St., Ste. 200
Columbia, SC  29201
Complaint Form



SARA state


South Dakota Board of Regents
306 E Capitol Ave., Ste. 200
Pierre, SD  57501-2545

South Dakota Office of Attorney General
Division of Consumer Protection
1302 E Hwy 14, Ste. 3
Pierre, SD  57501-8053
Complaint Form



SARA state


Tennessee Higher Education Commission
404 James Robertson Pky., Ste. 1900
Nashville, TN  37243
Complaint Form



SARA state


Texas Workforce Commission
Career Schools and Colleges
101 E 15th St., Rm. 226-T
Austin, TX  78778-0001
Complaint Form

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
1200 E Anderson Ln.
Austin, TX  78752

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
PO Box 12548
Austin, TX  78711-2548
Complaint Form



Authorization is Pending


Government of the United States Virgin Islands
Department of Education, Office of the Commissioner
1834 Kongens Gaden
St. Thomas, VI  00802



SARA state


Utah Division of Consumer Protection
160 E 300 South
Salt Lake City, UT  84111
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


Vermont Department of Education
State Board of Education
120 State St.
Montpelier, VT  05620-2501

Vermont Attorney General’s Office
109 State St.
Montpelier, VT  05609-1001



SARA state


State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
101 N 14th St.
James Monroe Building
Richmond, VA  23219
Complaint Form



SARA state


Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board
917 Lakeridge Way
PO Box 43430
Olympia, WA  98504-3430
Email
Complaint Form

Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board
128 SW 10th Ave.
PO Box 43105
Olympia, WA  98504-3105
Email
Complaint Form

Washington State Office of the Attorney General
1125 SE Washington St.
PO Box 40100
Olympia, WA  98504-0100
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Education Licensure Commission
810 NE First St., 9th Floor
Washington, DC  20002
Complaint Form



SARA state


West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission
1018 E Kanawha Blvd, Ste. 700
Charleston, WV  25301-2800

Community and Technical College System of West Virginia
1018 E Kanawha Blvd., Ste. 700
Charleston, WV  25301

West Virginia Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
PO Box 1789
Charleston, W  25326-1789
Complaint Form



SARA state


Wisconsin Educational Approval Board
30 W Mifflin St., 9th Floor
PO Box 8696
Madison, WI  53708
Email
Complaint Form



SARA state


Wyoming Department of Education
2300 Capitol Ave.
Hathaway Building, 2nd Floor
Cheyenne, WY  82002-0050

Attorney General’s Office
123 Capitol Building
200 W 24th St.
Cheyenne, WY  82002



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