Going back to college

Postsecondary credentials, such as a degree, credential or industry-recognized certification is essential for many careers. If you started to obtain one and stopped, we want to help you pick up where you stopped. Whether that means changing careers, learning a new trade, or getting on the path to a degree or certificate, there are many options. Our Rhode Island Reconnect program is designed to help you sort through the barriers, the red tape, and the questions about how, when and where. You will be paired with an educational navigator who will be your personal cheerleader and guide through the process of returning to school or job training. Navigators help clients identify goals, create plans, and identify resources necessary for returning to school or changing a career.

Student records

Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner holds records for some closed postsecondary schools that operated in Rhode Island. For a complete list of closed schools and location of their records, please refer to the closed institutions link below.

By law, all postsecondary institutions currently operating in Rhode Island must maintain records for both their active and their former students.

If your school operated outside of Rhode Island, please refer to that state’s closed school records office.

Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner does not have high school or GED records. For those records, contact the school district office or the RI Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Here are the links to the information at Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and University of Rhode Island.

CCRI records information | RIC records information | URI records information

Find more info on requesting records from closed institutions here.

Visit this page to submit a records request.

Distance Learning


In the COVID era, online learning was widespread as educational institutions and students used computers to connect and learn. However, distance learning via computer has a longer and established practice in the U.S. Recognizing the growing demand for distance education opportunities, higher education stakeholders – including state regulators and education leaders, accreditors, the U.S. Department of Education, and colleges and universities – joined together in 2013 to establish the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), which streamline regulations around distance education programs. The SARA is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by degree-granting postsecondary institutions based in Rhode Island and other states.

SARA is overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and administered by four regional education compacts, with the New England Board of Higher Education being the regional entity for Rhode Island.

In December 2015, the Council on Postsecondary Education and its Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner became the state portal entity for Rhode Island-SARA, based on the authority given under RIGL §16-59-6 (14, 15). The SARA is an agreement among member states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offerings of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. Joining in this agreement makes it easier for R.I. students to take high-quality online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in other states and also streamlines administration for R.I. educational institutions that want to offer distance learning opportunities to individuals living in other states.

These Rhode Island institutions are approved to participate in RI-SARA

The Council on Postsecondary Education has adopted two policies related to distance learning and student complaints regarding distance learning. 

The Council on Postsecondary Education has established an authorization process for non-profit institutions who are interested in offering distance learning opportunities to R.I. residents but whose home state is not part of NC-SARA, which currently includes institutions in California, or who have chosen not to seek NC-SARA approval through their home state.

These institutions have been approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education to operate distance learning activities in R.I. as non-SARA institutions:

In order to protect consumers, the Council on Postsecondary Education requires non-SARA institutions to make substantive academic, financial, and procedural commitments before they can be authorized. They include

  • Agreeing to abide by the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education adopted by the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions

  • Agreeing to work with the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner to resolve any complaints arising from students in R.I., and to abide by decisions of the state portal entity.

  • Agree to pay annual non-SARA fees

All R.I. institutions of higher education are invited to apply to join RI-SARA. Each institutional application will have substantive agreement provisions (e.g., academic, financial, and procedural) depending on the following provisions and commitments:

If your institution is interested in applying to join RI-SARA, please complete this form so that we can follow up with you.

If you have questions about eligibility, you can contact Rebecca Ryan (, 401-736-1139). 

RI-SARA institutions pay an application fee to RI-SARA and a national fee to NC-SARA. Once an institution is approved, these fees provide reciprocity for the R.I. institution to operate in every NC-SARA state rather than having to seek authorization from each individual NC-SARA state. Approved institutions must pay an annual renewal fee to remain authorized as an RI-SARA approved institution. The schedule of fees for NC-SARA can be found on the NC-SARA website.

RI-SARA state fees are due at the time of application, and the fee schedule for institutions is

Rhode Island In-state Institutions: Initial Application Fees

  • $3,500 for institutions with < 2,500 FTEs
  • $6,000 for institutions with FTEs = 2,501-9,999
  • $8,500 for institutions with >10,000 FTEs

Rhode Island In-state Institutions: Annual Renewal Fees

  • $1,500 for institutions with <2,500 FTEs
  • $4,000 for institutions with FTE = 2,501-9,999
  • $6,000 for institutions with >10,000 FTEs

If your institution is interested in applying to operate as a non-SARA institution, please complete this form so that we can follow up with you. 

If you have questions about eligibility, you can contact Rebecca Ryan (, 401-736-1164).  

Out-of-state, Non-profit, Non-SARA Institutions: INITIAL & RENEWAL

  • $5,000 for institutions with < 2,500 FTEs
  • $7,500 for institutions with FTEs = 2,501-9,999
  • $10,000 for institutions with >10,000 FTEs

Dual and concurrent

Dual enrollment refers to students who are enrolled simultaneously in college courses while enrolled in high school. Dual enrollment courses are taken on a college campus, where they are taught by college faculty.

Concurrent enrollment courses are taken at the students’ high schools, where they are taught by high school teachers who meet instructional requirements.

Students who take college-level courses while still in high school can advance to college with credits in their academic record, improve their college readiness, gain momentum to reach their academic goals, and reduce the overall cost of college tuition.

Qualifying students who take college courses from Rhode Island’s public higher education institutions as part of their high school requirements do so at no cost to the student or family.

Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner and R.I. public institutions of higher education, together with consultation from the R.I. Department of Education, have developed lists of recommended courses for dual enrollment at each of the three postsecondary institutions. These lists are intended to help students and counselors in selecting courses that meet high school requirements and best match the students’ postsecondary goals.

For concurrent enrollment courses, Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, in conjunction with the public higher education institutions, has developed a list of concurrent enrollment courses. The list includes courses that transfer easily among the three public higher ed institutions, apply widely to degrees and certificates, and allow students to experience rigorous, college-level work.

To view the most current list of approved dual and concurrent enrollment courses, visit the R.I. Department of Education website.

During the 2013 legislative session, the General Assembly passed the Dual Enrollment Equal Opportunity Act (RIGL §16-100) to enable Rhode Island high school students to be dually enrolled in secondary school classes and college courses. The regulations were first approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education on December 2, 2014 and by the Board of Education on April 27, 2015.

Funding for the program is provided by Prepare RI, an inter-agency task force that includes the R.I. Department of Education, Governor’s Workforce Board, and Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. The cost of some coursework is underwritten by the school districts of participating students.

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