Go to WDVA Home Page

Wisconsin State Approving Agency (SAA)


The following changes became effective with the implementation of Public Law 111-377 in 2011. Section 203 pertains.

The Federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Approves Programs at These Schools

Programs at these schools are deemed approved for purposes of VA education benefits (Title 38, USC). They are no longer under the jurisdiction of the SAA for approval of programs. VA approves programs and changes at the following:

  • Accredited Public Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) – both college degree and non-college degree (NCD) programs
  • Accredited Non-Profit IHLs – both college degree and NCD

These schools no longer need to report new, or changes to, college degree programs because the VA already has deemed them approved. Also, programs offered at these schools will no longer be listed on the VA’s online listing of approved programs; if a program is offered at either of the above types of schools, it is henceforth deemed approved for use of federal veterans’ education benefits.

In addition, the VA is responsible for program changes impacting the following types of training or education:

  • Flight training
  • Registered apprenticeships
  • High schools
  • Licensing tests offered by government agencies – federal, state or local.

The State Approving Agency (SAA) Approves Programs at These Schools

The SAA continues to have new or revised approval jurisdiction for programs offered at the following:

  • Private For-Profit institutions – includes accredited or non-accredited, NCD or college degree programs
  • NCD only institutions – accredited and non-accredited programs

The SAA also continues to be responsible for the approval of ALL NEW schools, facilities and testing organizations.

Return to top of page

The following explanation pertains to the approval of programs for which the Wisconsin State Approving Agency is responsible.

The Wisconsin State Approving Agency (SAA) evaluates, approves, and monitors academic institutions, schools, and programs. For veterans or other eligible persons to use the GI Bill when participating in a program of study, the program must lead to educational, vocational, and/or professional objectives. The GI Bill may be used for an undergraduate or graduate degree, a vocational certificate or diploma, a high school diploma, or GED (General Education Development certificate). Types of training that may be approved include high school equivalency diplomas, advanced flight training, correspondence training for college work only, or programs leading to a license or certificate required to practice a vocation or profession.

The GI Bill also can be used for apprenticeship or on-the-job (OJT) training. Contact the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards for information.

The SAA operates under a contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as part of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) and is located in Madison, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin SAA is under the administration of the VA Regional Processing Office (RPO) in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Purpose of the SAA

SAA responsibilities under federal law are as follows:

  • Inspect, approve and supervise applicable schools and inspect the academic records of GI Bill recipients.
  • Identify education and training programs that may be approved for veterans and other eligible persons at applicable schools.
  • Determine whether a school complies with established standards relating to the approved programs, including the equitable treatment of veterans.
  • Identify waste, fraud, or other abuse by persons, practices, or policy connected with educational institutions and training establishments where veterans are using federal veterans' education benefits.
  • Since the enactment of PL 111-377, SAAs now participate in VA Compliance Surveys (CS) at approved schools and training institutions. In conducting a CS, the SAA will ensure that schools and training institutions and approved programs, are in compliance with all applicable provisions of the laws administered by VA.

SAA ensures that standards are set and maintained among applicable schools and programs prior to allowing veterans or other eligible persons to enroll and use their GI Bill benefits. The process includes approval of the following areas:

  • Academic and training programs
  • Structural facilities, equipment and teaching resources used for education or training
  • Faculty credentials and standards of employment
  • Schools' ownership, leadership, and administration reputation and competence

Other services performed include:

  • Technical assistance to approved applicable schools and schools seeking approval from the SAA
  • Workshops and school visits to train new certifying officials
  • On-site and group instruction for new procedures and policies
  • Consumer protection for veterans as they use their VA benefits
  • Outreach services to interested groups and organizations
  • Liaison and referral to related agencies for GI Bill recipient assistance

The following veterans’ education benefits, administered by the VA, are available for eligible persons to use when enrolled in approved programs:

The Approval Process for Schools & Programs

The Veterans Representative or CEO of each institution must send the SAA a letter requesting approval to train veterans and other eligible persons under Title 38 U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. If the type of training is not obvious in the school or business title, the school should provide a brief description with the request. Within two weeks receipt of the letter, SAA will send an approval application packet or explain why the process should not be initiated. The forms and the requested data or information should be forwarded as soon as possible; if requested, the SAA can provide assistance in completing the application.

If a school is a proprietary institution that is either for profit or non-profit, the school must be in compliance and good standing with the appropriate State of Wisconsin licensing or approval agency. Schools that offer NCD programs only must have been in operation for two continuous years prior to being approved for the use of benefits. Rare exceptions to the two-year rule include federal government contracts, proximity to a military base, or when an approved NCD relocates less than 55 miles away from its initial location.

When the SAA has reviewed the application materials for completeness and compliance, it will make a preliminary decision as to the institution’s ability to be approved. If it is anticipated that the school can be approved, then the SAA will contact the school to set up an on-site approval visit. During the visit, the SAA consultant may inspect the school facilities, examine school records, review licenses or permits, interview students and faculty, and examine program documentation. If approval seems imminent, the SAA consultant may provide on-site training and technical assistance to the school official that will serve as the school’s Veterans’ Coordinator, also known as the school’s Certifying Official.

After completion of an approval visit without deficiencies, the SAA will approve the institution for veterans' training. Upon acceptance of the SAA approval, the VA will send a copy of the approval data to the approved institution and the SAA as entered on the VA's Web Enabled Approval Management System (WEAMS). The VA will also provide further instruction to the school official for certifying enrollment of veterans or other eligible students for payment of educational benefits. This process generally takes 60-90 days depending upon the completeness of the packet, letters, etc.

Institutions and schools that are under the jurisdiction of the SAA for the approval of their programs may contact the SAA to begin the approval process for training veterans.

State Approving Agency
201 W. Washington Ave., 4th Floor
Madison, WI 53707-7843
Telephone: (608) 261-8771
Fax: (608) 267-0403
SAA Email

Return to top of page

SAA Staff

Michael Ayers
SAA Director
Phone: (608) 267-7135
Email: Michael Ayers

  Joe Bertalan
Education Consultant
Phone: (608) 267-7329
Email: Joe Bertalan
  Nina Smithback
Education Consultant
Phone: (608) 266-3917
Email: Nina Smithback
  Nancy Warner
Program Assistant
Phone: (608) 261-8771
Email: Nancy Warner