Physical Presence, Exemptions and Reciprocity

DETERMINING A STUDENT'S PHYSICAL LOCATION FOR PURPOSES OF DISTANCE EDUCATION

The student's physical location is determined by where the student participates in the distance education activity, regardless of whether or not it is the student's legal state of residence.  Such cases may include:  military assignments, temporary employment relocation, incarceration, etc.

TRIGGERING PHYSICAL PRESENCE UNDER STATE STATUES (i.e. in Non-SARA states)

What happens if physical presence is triggered?

If physical presence is triggered, the institution must become authorized in that state unless they are exempt or have a reciprocity agreement in place.


PHYSICAL PRESENCE: FACTORS INDICATING PHYSICAL PRESENCE (in Non-SARA states)

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

EXEMPTIONS:

  • PUBLIC INSTITUTION-USM is currently exempt in California.

    • 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 represents 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
  • Independent off-campus study

    • Independent field work for a thesis or dissertation, by individual students not engaged in a supervised field experience or in direct contact with the student's institution is exempt from requirements of SARA.


RECIPROCITY AGREEMENTS

There is one reciprocity agreements to which USM is a party:  National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA)