Breaking Down Barriers: The Impact of State Authorization Reciprocity on Online Enrollment.
James Ward at State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) Annual Conference
On November 10, James Ward will present on the impact of state authorization reciprocity on online enrollment at State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) Annual Conference
State authorization, or the approval by a given state for a college to operate within its jurisdiction, is an important part of the regulatory triad. The triad is the three-pronged oversight of higher education that includes the federal government, accrediting bodies, and state governments. State authorization has become more complicated with the rapid expansion of online education that is blurring state geographic boundaries. Colleges seeking to enroll students from numerous states in online programs must obtain authorization in each of those states. The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) seeks to limit this burden on colleges and expand access to online education to students who may have limited postsecondary options. This study examines the relationship between NC-SARA participation and online enrollments. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find that colleges joining NC-SARA experience growth in students enrolling in online courses, that early adopters experience larger growths in enrollments, and that enrollments increase over time. We do not find evidence that for-profit institutions, colleges with large pre-NC-SARA online enrollments, or colleges that are highly reliant on online education benefit more than others from joining the agreement.