Senator Bean, District 4 — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2017
Senator Bean's SARA Bill Passes Florida Legislature, Heads to Governor
Tallahassee – SB 668/HB 859, Postsecondary Distance Education, by Senator Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) and Representative Amber Mariano (R-Hudson), has passed the Florida Legislature. The bill establishes the Postsecondary Reciprocal Distance Education Coordinating Council within the Florida Department of Education. This council will administer the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) with other states to authorize higher education institutions to offer online courses in such states.
“This is a common sense bill that makes sure Florida’s students are not at a disadvantage while pursuing their postsecondary educations, even if they choose to do so in another state,” said Senator Bean. “It also makes Florida’s colleges and universities more competitive in offering online courses to students in other states by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape.”
Reciprocity agreements are voluntary agreements between states that establish comparable national criteria for interstate online education courses and programs. This reciprocity agreement is intended to simplify and improve the process for students who take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in other states.
“Online learning is a powerful tool, and this legislation will help ensure students enrolled in online courses are receiving high-quality education wherever they choose to attend,” stated Representative Mariano. “This bill allows Florida schools to be even more competitive nationwide and provides options for students searching for a flexible degree program.”
Florida currently participates in the SREB Electronic Regional Reciprocity Agreement (SECRRA), which allows Florida’s approved colleges and universities to offer online courses in SREB member states. However, since the current SECRRA dissolves in June of this year, Florida students will be unable to attend many out-of-state institutions. SB 668/HB 859 prevents this lapse by applying for Florida to participate as a member of the SARA. HB 859 will now go before Governor Scott to be signed into law.