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State Authorization

A federal regulation, effective July 1, 2014, requires all universities offering distance education courses in states other than their own to receive and maintain authorization from each state. Pennsylvania Western (PennWest) University will be offering distance education programs and courses.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. Pennsylvania's SARA membership is effective Jan. 1, 2017, and PennWest, upon approval by the United States Department of Education, will be a participating SARA institution. SARA is overseen by a national council and administered by four regional education compacts.

Complaints

In compliance with 34 CFR 668.43(b) Code of Federal Regulation and U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) rules, an institution offering distance education must "provide its students or prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accreditor and with its State approval or licensing entity and any other relevant State official or agency that would appropriately handle a student's complaint."

PennWest University aspires to resolve prospective and current student complaints and concerns in an expeditious, fair and amicable manner. If you are a student enrolled in a PennWest University’s distance education program or course and have a complaint or concern, please refer to published PennWest policies and follow the stated procedures to resolve the matter.

Students who are unable to resolve the issue through the faculty member, program coordinator and/or the department chair may email nc-sara@pennwest.edu. Student concerns will be addressed as soon as possible.

PennWest University is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education(PASSHE) and accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. If you believe that the issue was not resolved by the university, you can file a complaint with PASSHE’s Office of the Chancellor by completing PASSHE's official complaint form.

Distance education students who have exhausted all efforts to satisfactorily resolve a complaint in a timely manner through PennWest’s policies may seek further guidance from their home state. In compliance with U.S. Department of Education(USDOE) rules, an institution offering distance 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. State Contact Information in the linked list has been collected by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) and will be updated as additional information becomes available.

State Contact Information

Professional Licensures / Certifications

SARA does not cover professional licensure issues. All jurisdictions have their own requirements for professional degrees that concern licensure/certification (e.g., teacher preparation programs, nursing, counseling…). PennWest programs are designed to meet professional licensure and/or certification requirements applicable within Pennsylvania. While these requirements may also apply in other states and territories, if you plan to seek licensure/certification outside of Pennsylvania, please check this document for specific information about your state.

Pennsylvania Western University Integration

Pending final US Department of Education approval, California University, Clarion University, and Edinboro University will integration to become Pennsylvania Western University. The initial submission to NC-SARA by PennWest will take place in May 2023. Until that time, each campus will continue to monitor compliance with NC-SARA standards. Their respective website information can be found at:

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