MPCC given go-ahead to instruct college students in other states
More students than ever will now have access to online courses and programs through Mid-Plains Community College (MPCC).
MPCC officials received notice Nov. 18 from the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) that the college has been accepted as a participant in the SARA initiative.
That makes it one of 11 postsecondary institutions in Nebraska that can offer classes to people residing outside the state. As of Monday morning, four out of six community colleges in Nebraska were approved, but none of the universities were.
Becoming qualified has been a lengthy process for MPCC. It started when new federal regulations were enacted July 1, 2011. At that point, the U.S. Department of Education implemented regulations requiring colleges and universities to have a complaint process in place for students before courses could be offered outside state borders.
There also had to be documentation that quality instruction was being offered online and through distance learning, internships and clinical rotations.
The restrictions meant MPCC would have to ask permission from each state before offering courses there.
“It only hurt students in the long run,” said Jody Tomanek, area vice president for academic affairs at North Platte Community College.
“The biggest group affected would have been those in the accelerated EMT course. The 12-week course draws in students from all over the nation,” she said.
Groups of postsecondary boards banded together to determine how to make the application process easier. The end result was SARA. Instead of asking for permission from individual states, MPCC applied to Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education for inclusion in SARA.
The acceptance allows MPCC to offer courses to students residing in other SARA participating states. Those include Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.