State Authorization for Distance Learners

State Authorization Agreements give participating institutions the approval to operate outside their native borders and within a different state, as long as they have agreed and adhere to the requirements determined by that state’s higher education regulatory agency. Every state is different and can have different requirements. This is important to know when considering registering for out-of-state courses. It is a process that can take additional time due to the need to research individual state authorization agreements and requirements.

NC-SARA Approved Institution logo

National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements

Blue Ridge Community College has been approved by North Carolina to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education.

What BRCC is doing

While 99% of our online students live within the state of North Carolina, and we do not recruit from nor market to outside states, we are complying with the Federal Requirements by monitoring all incoming applications. Once the Registrar identifies student applicants from out of state, communication will begin with notification to the student for State Authorization requirements. If the student communicates in writing that they wish to take online courses with us, the Office for Instruction researches applicable state laws regarding distance education authorization.

The following policy was approved by the Blue Ridge Community College Board of Trustees on March 9, 2015:

The College reserves the right to refuse admission to any applicant who is not a resident of North Carolina who seeks enrollment in any distance education course only if that applicant resides in a state where the college is not authorized to provide distance education in that state.

Here is a Sample Inquiry Letter, that Blue Ridge is using to ask questions regarding State Authorization when we determine we have an out of state student wishing to take an online class.


State Contact Information

Pursuant to the United States Department of Education's Program Integrity Rule, each institution of higher education is required to provide all prospective and current students with the contact information of the state agency or agencies that handle complaints against postsecondary education institutions offering distance learning within that state.

At this time, we are exempt from the requirement to apply for authorization in the following states based on “no physical presence” or written authorization as defined in their published information. A link to that state’s Complaint process is provided below.

Student Complaint Process

Blue Ridge Community College Complaint Procedures

Students must begin with the Blue Ridge Community College internal complaint or review policies and procedures prior to filing a complaint with a state agency. You can access the “Student Grievance Procedure and Due Process” in 4.16.1 of the BRCC Policies and Procedures Manual or in the BRCC Catalog and Student Handbook (pp 40-41). You may submit your written complaint to:

Kirsten Bunch
Vice President for Student Services
180 West Campus Dr.
Flat Rock, NC 28731
(828) 694-1804

SARA North Carolina Complaint Process

Students may also file a complaint against a SARA North Carolina institution. Please follow the SARA-NC Student Complaint Process using their designated Complaint Form. You can contact SARA North Carolina at:

Attn. Director of SARA North Carolina, NCSEAA
P.O. Box 14103
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
(855) SARA-1-NC (727-2162)
(919) 549-8614, ext. 4667

North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints

If the above process is not satisfactory, students may contact their State approval or licensing entity in the student's State of residency established to handle student complaints.

In North Carolina, the contact is the UNC-System Office. Their website states:

If you were unable to resolve a complaint through the institution's grievance procedures, please review the Student Complaint Policy (PDF), print out and complete the Student Complaint Form (PDF) and submit the complaint to:

North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints
c/o Student Complaints
University of North Carolina System Office
910 Raleigh Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2688
Phone: (919) 962-4550
Website: North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints

SACSCOC Complaint Process

If your complaint is still not resolved to your satisfaction, you can reach out to Blue Ridge Community College’s accrediting agency. BRCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award the Associate in Arts Degree (A.A.), the Associate in Science Degree (A.S.), the Associate in Engineering (A.E.), the Associate in Fine Arts Degree (A.F.A.), the Associate in General Education (A.G.E.), and the Associate in Applied Science Degree (A.A.S.). When filing a complaint to SACSCOC, please follow the guidelines listed in the “Procedures for Filing a Complaint against an Institution” of the SACSCOC Complaint Procedure. The contact information for SACSCOC is:

1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097
(404) 679-4500


State Authorization Liaisons per State

Outside state contact Information has been collected and frequently updated by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO). View the Directory of State Authorization Agencies and Lead Contacts.


Professional Licensure

If an out-of-state student plans to seek professional licensure or certification in the state where they plan to practice that may rely on the credits or certificates obtained at BRCC, please visit our page on Professional Licensure for assistance in determining who to contact.