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SUNY Downstate
Distance Learning Students – Registration and Filing of Complaints or Grievances

Registration of Distance Programs

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University’s degree and certificate programs delivered through distance education are registered with the State University of New York (SUNY) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a national initiative to provide more access to online courses while maintaining compliance standards with state regulatory agencies. SARA is a voluntary agreement among its members states that allows institutions to provide online courses outside of their own state borders by seeking and maintaining state approvals via a streamlined process. To learn more about SARA, visit: New York State joined SARA on December 9, 2016 and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) approved institutional participation for SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.

Students Residing Outside New York State and Taking Distance Education Courses

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is a NC-SARA participating institution As a participating institution, SUNY Downstate can enroll residents of other SARA participating states in its distance education courses and programs. This policy only applies to students taking distance learning courses from outside of New York State.

Programs Leading to Professional Licensure

SARA does not affect state professional licensing requirements. Please note that certain programs leading to professional licensure may be subject to additional state professional licensing requirements, which are not covered by SARA. Students and prospective students are encouraged to consult with their own state and/or professional licensing body to ensure that any courses taken or degrees/certificates earned in an online program at SUNY Downstate will be accepted in their home state.

Complaint Resolution Procedures 

Federal regulations require institutions delivering distance education courses to provide students and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with (1) the state approval or licensing entity in the student's state of residency and (2) any other relevant state official or agency that would appropriately handle a student complaint.

SARA requires SUNY Downstate to provide all students taking courses under SARA's provisions with information on SUNY Downstate’s and SARA's complaint resolution policies and procedures. SARA applies solely to distance education activity conducted across state lines. It does not apply to distance education activities inside New York State. Only those complaints resulting from distance education courses or activities offered to students in other SARA states come under the terms of SARA. Complaints from in-state students are to be resolved under SUNY Downstate’s provisions (see below), not those of SARA.

Complaints against SUNY Downstate resulting from distance education courses or activities offered to students in other SARA states should first go through SUNY Downstate’s procedures for resolution of grievances. Please refer to SUNY Downstate’s Complaint Resolution Procedure, which outlines how students can have their complaints evaluated, referred, and appropriately addressed. (See “Filing of Formal Student Complaints” at:

If a person bringing a complaint resulting from distance education courses or activities offered to students in other SARA states is not satisfied with the outcome of SUNY Downstate’s process for handling complaints, the complaint (except for complaints about grades or student conduct violations) may be appealed through SARA's provisions, within two years of the incident about which the complaint is made. Please refer to NC SARA's State Portal Entity Contacts for a list of student complaint contact information by state and agency. For more information about how to file complaints as an out-of-state student, visit the NC-SARA web site:

Complaints regarding student grades or student conduct violations are governed entirely by SUNY Downstate policy and the laws of the State of New York. For information on how to resolve these complaints, see the applicable annual Student Handbook (located on-line:

For more information on filing complaints with the State University of New York (SUNY) or the New York State Education Department (NYSED), please refer to the NYSED Office of College and University Evaluation's Student/Public Resources webpage:


Adopted/Updated:  Sept 30, 2020

Approved by: Council of Deans