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General Questions

Please feel free to post general questions in this area under the “Leave a comment” field.  Members are encouraged to participate in discussions in this area, as we all have different levels of expertise in state authorization.

22 responses »

  1. Hello all,

    I was wondering how other institutions in Ohio are handling the issue of compliance with Maryland’s refund policy? It seems to be a sticking point and I am unsure whether or not MHEC is dead-set on enforcing compliance or if there have been any negotiations with the state.

    Any info anyone may have would be greatly appreciated.


    Jason Piatt
    Kent State University

    • Columbus State has added Maryland to our list of no-go states.

    • Danielle Buckius

      Hi Jason,
      I apologize for being late to the discussion. Early in Franklin University’s state authorization work, we realized that our uniform refund policy would not meet the requirements of several states. We dug through each state’s regulations to research if we met or did not meet their refund requirements, and ultimately ended up with a handful of states for which we had to tweak our refund policy. We list those states and their respective refund tables on our website:

      It helped that the supervisor of Franklin’s Financial Aid department was part of our Accreditation & Authorization team, of course. You may need to get buy-in from such administrative folks at your institution as well. So far, this system has worked for us.

      I hope this helps!

  2. HI Jason,
    We worked with our Bursar office to handle MD students on an individual basis. We have so few, that we are able to identify them easily. Our academic coaches are able to advise them of the specific policy as required by Maryland. Knock on wood, we have not had any difficulties. I hope that helps.

    Sinclair Community College

    • Hi Cheryl,

      That is very interesting. We have over 30 in MD. One of the sticking points that we are dealing with is that if we were to create a policy only for Maryland students in regard to refunds, it might open the door for having 49 different policies. That is the scenario we are trying to avoid.

      I will keep you posted on the outcome. Thanks again for the info.


  3. Hi all,

    I was wondering about professional development organizations/opportunities related specifically to State Authorization…does anyone have any suggestions? I have done some looking around but don’t see anything that would benefit me directly in the SA job/role. I know there are elements of State Authorization within organizations like Sloan-C, Educause, etc.

    Any ideas are appreciated. Thanks


    • Hi Jason,

      I suggest attending the HLC’s annual conference in the late winter; sessions on SA are almost always included among the offerings. WCET, a project of WICHE, is also a great place (meetings, workshops, etc.) to explore professional development opportunities. And – of course – you should plan to join us for the next SAN-O meeting in Columbus (December 2014)!

      Hope this helps!

      Joel T., Accreditation Specialist (Franklin University)

  4. Stefanie Pfister

    Hello SAN-O Friends!

    Our state system is thinking about submitting feedback to DOE Secretary Arne Duncan regarding the “new” state authorization regulations. Have any of you heard of other institutions or state systems doing this?

    Thanks for the insight!

    Shippensburg University of PA

  5. Hello all!
    I’ve been asked whether US schools enrolling students from other countries in online courses need authorization from those courses. Are there authorization processes, similar to the state ones, abroad? Is there a good place to find more information?

    Thanks for the help!
    Xavier University

    • Hi Mary,

      I am sorry that we didn’t reply sooner. We are actually researching this now for our own situation at Franklin University. Unfortunately, there is not a definitive answer at this point. We are unaware of a current repository of information available that details the authorization requirements (if any) of countries outside the U.S., and what the “trigger” activities are internationally. I encourage other SAN-O members to chime in if you are aware of any further details. We will share additional information as we are made aware of international requirements.

      Franklin University

  6. Yolanda Cunningham

    The Maryland application is asking that we provide a teach-out plan. At present, we do not have one. Does anyone have an example they can provide me from their institution?

    Thank you for the assistance!

    • Yolanda,

      I am sorry that we didn’t reply sooner to your question. Luckily, when we submitted our application to Maryland several years ago, they did not ask for a teach out plan and it does not appear to be on their renewal application either. In doing a basic search online, there seems to be a common set of elements that are considered standard in a academic teach out plan.In addition, many universities have policies on teach out plans, outlining the requirements.

      Common elements in a Teach Out Plan include:
      – Obtaining a list of current students enrolled in the program, including their anticipated graduation date.
      – Specific academic plan of how and when remaining courses will be taught.
      – Communication plan to students and University community.
      – Specific timeline of when program coursework will be official ended.

      Franklin University

  7. I would very much like to see an example of a teach-out plan too!

    • Pamela,

      I am sorry that we didn’t reply earlier. Please see response to previous post for more information.

      If other SAN-O members have worked through a Teach Out Plan at their university and want to share additional thoughts, I encourage that.

      Franklin University

  8. Good afternoon all –

    As many know, Maryland is about to modify their statutes in January 2015…but I cannot find anything about this online. Does anyone know of a link/document where this information may be stored? Thanks

    Jason Piatt (Kent State)

    • Yolanda Cunningham


      Please see below:

      If you type in “Notice of Proposed Action [14-159-P]” in a search bar, it takes you to a .doc link. I could only access it outside of Maryland’s site. Within the site it kept saying ‘broken link’. Also, if you go to the Maryland Register – it is there. (I can email it if necessary.)

      By the way, Maryland is revising their site…For example, there is a link within application “Out-of-State Online Education Registration Form, Initial Registration (July 1, 2014– June 30, 2015)” that did not exist yesterday! Also, it is hard to find as many references to COMAR 13B.02.01 as before.


  9. yolandacunningham

    Hello everyone!
    Re SARA membership… Has anyone heard what fee the state of Ohio might impose on Ohio institutions that choose to participate in SARA, when/if Ohio becomes a SARA state?

    (I am trying to gauge the approximate cost of SARA membership for our institution. I know the fee we would pay directly to SARA, but have not been able to find out what we might pay the State of Ohio.)

    (Happy New Year to everyone!!)

  10. Mary Hammitt, Franklin University

    Hello Yolanda, I have not seen any information about the amount Ohio will be charging institutions to participate in SARA. You can use this link ( to see what other states are charging.

  11. yolandacunningham

    Good morning everyone,

    We are in the process of drawing up an affidavit to submit as part of the Online Education Registration form to Maryland. I have been asked to find examples of affidavits submitted to Maryland by other institutions.

    Would anyone be able to send an example to me? It would be greatly appreciated!

    Case Western Reserve University

    • Yolanda,

      We have found several sample affidavit examples out on the internet. It can be simple and clearly state that the president attests to what is outlined in the application. They typically need to be notarized and it would also be wise to have it reviewed by your university legal team.

      Franklin University

  12. My college contracts with a third party vendor for a series of short non-credit online courses. The vendor handles all of the administration work including billing, collections, complaints, refunds, etc. The courses are offered on webpages with our name at the top. What, if any, are our SARA obligations in this relationship?


  13. Hi Tom,

    My understanding is that since this program is under your college’s name, your institution is responsible for ensuring that the program meets all state regulations. If your institution becomes a SARA institution, you would need to include information about this program and it’s students in any required reporting. If other SAN-O members have a different understanding, please reply to this post.


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