Cornell University has been approved by the state of New York to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA).

National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements logo

Cornell's membership in SARA enables the School of Continuing Education to offer online programs to students in 49 of 50 member states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

In addition, Cornell, as a postsecondary educational institution, is permitted to offer online programs to students in California. This is because California, the only non-member state, does not require registration for out-of-state educational institutions.

NC-SARA is a private nonprofit organization [501(c)(3)] that helps expand students' access to educational opportunities and ensure more efficient, consistent, and effective regulation of distance education programs.

In 2013, higher education stakeholders—including state regulators and education leaders, accreditors, the US Department of Education, and institutions—joined together to establish the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), which streamline regulations around distance education programs.

SARA establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs and is overseen by a national council and administered by four regional education compacts.

Student consumer protection and complaint information for out-of-state distance learning students

SARA Student Consumer Protection requires member institutions to

  • Be accredited and in good standing with their accreditors
  • Hold authorization in their home state
  • Demonstrate healthy finances
  • Be accountable for third-party providers
  • Uphold stringent reporting and accountability requirements
  • Demonstrate transparency around professional licensure
  • Meet the educational obligations to students
  • Agree to elevate unresolved student complaints

Complaint process

Students are expected to first try to resolve complaints using the processes in place at their institutions.

For complaints related to courses offered through the School of Continuing Education, contact the SCE office.

For complaints related to Cornell University online courses and programs, see Cornell's Office of External Education complaint process.

If complaints cannot be satisfactorily resolved, students can file complaints with SARA SPE for New York. You can do that by accessing the NC-SARA Institutional Directory on the NC-SARA Website. Information is provided below on accessing the NC-SARA compliant process. Once the SARA SPE for New York makes a determination on the complaint, they will convey this to the SPE associated with the student’s location.

Students who have exhausted all internal Cornell University complaint procedures and who remain unsatisfied may contact

New York State SARA Portal Entity
Andrea Richards
Supervisor of Higher Education Programs
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12234
Phone: 518.474.1551

Additional information about filing complaints

Refund policies

Get more information about refunds & withdrawals.

International authorization

Cornell is committed to compliance with all export control regulations, including U.S. sanctions. Any individual located in the following regions must receive written approval from Cornell’s Export Control and Compliance Officer prior to enrolling in an online course: Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Russia, Ukrainian regions of Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk.