Excelsior College Accepts $150,000 Grant from Lumina Foundation to Extend Work on Presidents’ Forum-Council of State Governments Regulatory Initiative

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Under Lumina Foundation Grant, Presidents’ Forum and Council of State Governments will continue development of voluntary interstate agreement designed to broaden availability of accredited online degree programs, ensure strong consumer protection, and reduce barriers to student success.

Presidents' Forum
Excelsior College has accepted the grant which will be used to continue work through 2013 on the Forum/CSG project to create a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)...

An additional $150,000 in funding from Lumina Foundation is helping to foster further development of a reciprocal process among the states that could streamline the process for authorizing online degree programs operating in multiple jurisdictions.

On behalf of the Presidents’ Forum, and its partner the Council of State Governments (CSG), Excelsior College has accepted the grant which will be used to continue work through 2013 on the Forum/CSG project to create a State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) intended to better align individual state regulatory requirements and increase reciprocal program approval among states.

Most individual state regulations governing higher education institutions were created years ago to address in-state residential-based campuses. There can be considerable variation in the design and application of these regulations among the states and many jurisdictions are just now catching up with the growth of online and distance learning programs that can have a multi-state presence.

In 2010, a $300,000, two-year Lumina grant was awarded to explore the potential for such an interstate compact. Having been successful in reaching this initial goal, the new grant will permit the Forum, in collaboration with CSG, to bring SARA closer to reality. Using the new grant, the Forum and CSG will continue outreach to a variety of stakeholders to educate policy makers about the potential cost savings and efficiencies for states and institutions to be gained through participation in SARA. The efforts of the Forum and CSG will complement closely related work by existing regional higher education compacts (WICHE, SREB, MHEC, and NEBHE) and the Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education organized by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

The 9th annual meeting of the Presidents’ Forum on October 3 (Mayflower Hotel, Washington DC) will feature a presentation and panel discussion on the draft SARA.

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Excelsior College (http://www.excelsior.edu) is an accredited, nonprofit distance learning institution that focuses on removing obstacles to the educational goals of adult learners. Founded in 1971 and located in Albany, NY, Excelsior is a proven leader in the assessment and validation of student knowledge. It offers more efficient and affordable access to degree completion through multiple avenues: its own online courses and college-level proficiency examinations, and the acceptance in transfer of credit from other colleges and universities as well as recognized corporate and military training programs. Excelsior College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The Presidents' Forum, (http://presidentsforum.excelsior.edu) established in 2004, is a collaboration of accredited, national, adult-serving institutions and programs which have embraced the power and potential of online education. The Mission of the Presidents' Forum is to advance the recognition of innovative practice and excellence in online learning. This is accomplished by providing a venue for leaders in higher education and stakeholders to share their knowledge and learn from others' best practices.

The Council of State Governments (http://www.csg.org) is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.

Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college—especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Lumina pursues this goal in three ways: by identifying and supporting effective practice, through public policy advocacy, and by using our communications and convening power to build public will for change. For more information, logon to www .luminafoundation.org.

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William M. Stewart

Lucia Anderson
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