The Wisconsin State Approving Agency (SAA) approves Wisconsin-based university and non-college degree programs, vocational, flight training, licensing, apprenticeships and other on-the-job training so that federal educational assistance benefits may be paid to veterans and other eligible dependents through programs administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition to facility and program approvals, the SAA assists the US Department of Veterans Affairs in conducting compliance actions at these facilities to ensure eligible students are paid accurately, receiving a quality education, and overall protecting the integrity of the GI Bill® from predatory or fraudulent actions.
Educational Institutions and Training Facilities
The SAA approves the following types of facilities and their programs for use of federal GI Bill benefits in Wisconsin as defined by 38 U.S.C Chapter 36. Unless directly specified, programs must meet a strict definition of being vocational and not personal/professional development in nature.
Institute of Higher Learning (IHL)
Non-College Degree (NCD)
Apprenticeship (APP) / On-the-Job Training (OJT)
Universities, colleges, community colleges, technical and/or business schools, offering instruction at the post-secondary level, which leads to an associate (or higher) degree. To be eligible for approval, the institution must be empowered by the appropriate state education authority, accredited by US Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, or specifically exempt from state authority by statute to grant such degrees. This designation also includes hospital programs that offer education at the post-secondary level.
Certificate or diploma programs which do not lead to a standard college degree. NCD programs are normally offered at community colleges, cosmetology institutions, business institutions, hospitals, trade schools, etc. and measured by either credit or clock-hours. To be eligible for approval, institutions should be operating for at least two years and approved either by the Wisconsin Department of Safety & Professional Services Educational Approval Program or the specific state agency which grants school approval for their field.||
Industry based training in which a veteran or eligible person earns an entry-level wage while training for a designated skill or trade in a goal-oriented program. Entities that are registered apprentices with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) are considered APPS. OJTs do not meet the same state definition as APPS but may be approved providing the establishment can satisfy the approval criteria, which includes program length, wage scale/progression, and a written training agreement.|
Licensing/Certification Exam (LACAS)
Preparatory Courses for Licensure or Certification (PREP)
High School Approvals
This category is for agencies or entities that award licenses or industry certifications which demonstrates an individual's possession of the knowledge or skill required to enter into, maintain, or advance in employment in a predetermined vocation or profession. Veterans may use their benefits to reimburse fees or costs associated with licensure or tests for certification.
Some courses of education
prepare students for taking a test to meet the requirements of licensure or certification, but do not lead to a vocational objective. These programs may be approved as a "Prep Course" where the veteran can apply for reimbursement of costs associated following completion of the program. Veterans do not receive a living stipend while attending these courses.||
Flight Training schools are private flight programs necessary for the attainment of a recognized vocational objective in the field of aviation or an educational objective toward a standard college degree in the field of Aviation. Please note, only Part 141 flight schools are eligible for accepting VA Education Benefits. ||
High school students who turn age 18 and eligible to utilize Chapter 35 Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance benefits may request their high school be approved as a qualified educational intuition. High school facilities are approved as an NCD program through a modified approval process. |
How Are Facilities Approved for Accepting VA Education Benefits?
If you are a school official or apprentice at jobsite and interested in having your site become approved for VA education benefits such as the GI Bill, please contact the Wisconsin SAA: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Include the following information in your inquiry:
- Name of facility
- Facility website address
- Point of contact
Before we begin the formal approval process we will gather general information on your type of facility, programs offered, accreditation/EAP approval status, and a point-of-contact who will potentially become the school's Certifying Official. Next, we will request specific documentation for further review and forward you additional paperwork to complete. Once documentation has been reviewed by one of our Education Consultants, we will schedule a facility visit before making a final determination of approval and submitting your application to the VA for authorization.
SAA approval is program specific, so some programs your facility offer may be approvable, and others may not. Many of the approval criteria (e.g., probationary policy, disciplinary policy and grading system, etc.) are institutional in nature, applying to more than one program. Ultimately, the approval of programs is dependent upon information in the school's publications, which the school must certify as true and correct. Since many Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) and Non-College Degree (NCD) schools issue periodic revisions of their publications which may contain new or revised policies and programs, the SAA must review, analyze and approve them, then forward them to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at minimum every two years. In Wisconsin, we typically reach out yearly to our facilities to review their catalogs and update their approval status.
The following graphic shows the entire process of a new facility and program approval whether it is a school, jobsite, or other training location. On average, this takes 1-2 months, depending on speed of which all information can be obtained for a new facility and programs to be approved. SAA's are allowed to back-date approval of facilities up to one-year from the date of submission to the VA, so even if a veteran starts a program before it has been formally approved, they may be eligible for back-pay of benefits.
Image Courtesy of US Department of Veterans Affairs
Certifying Officials and School Certifying Officials
Upon approval of the program, the school/employer/sponsor agrees to designate a person(s) who will be the Certifying Official(s).
The Certifying Official will be the liaison with the SAA on program approvals and certify the enrollment of students who are using GI Bill benefits and keeping beneficiaries'
training files current. The Certifying Official is the school/facility representative who may endorse VA forms or web based certifications for the purposes of GI Bill educational benefits.
This person notifies the SAA of any changes that have an effect on the State approval and VA concurrence. Examples of such changes include, but are not limited to:
If you are a Certifying Official, and curious who should handle specific questions regarding VA program approvals and certifications, please reference the table below:
Changes of school accreditation, ownership, branches, academic offerings, or licensing
Changes to policies or content of catalog or school bulletin
Changes in modality of course instruction
Changes to the Journeyman/finish wage scale
Changes in address, phone number, etc.
Additions or deletions of occupational trades
Changes to apprenticeship standards
Changes in training outlines
Changes in certifying official(s)
Image Courtesy of US Department of Veterans Affairs
School Certifying Official Handbook:
The most recent version of the
School Certifying Official (SCO) handbook is located HERE.
SCO Annual Training Requirements:
School Certifying Officials are required to participate in regular and ongoing training related to their role as an SCO. These
training requirements can be found HERE.
Veterans and Beneficiaries
Wondering if the school or training institution you are interested in attending is approved for VA educational benefits?
Institutions currently approved for the GI Bill can be found via the Web Enabled Approval Management System (WEAMS) school search. To see what is approved in Wisconsin click on the State of Wisconsin, then select the name of the facility that it begins with to see if it is approved. Additional facility information can be found via the GI Bill® Comparison Tool.
Just because a school or employer is not listed on this site does not mean they can not potentially be approved! Please have a facility representative contact us so we can begin the process of review.
The Wisconsin SAA is one of several federal and state agencies responsible for investigating fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, or dishonest school practices in Wisconsin. If you have complaints about your school facility we always encourage veterans to utilize the GI Bill School Feedback Tool. If you have additional concerns about a school facility and their ability to carry out a course of education, please feel free to email the Wisconsin SAA. email@example.com
The following infographic provides valuable information for ways to protect yourself or others from false, deceptive, or misleading ways that some entities try to exploit those with GI Bill benefits.
Federal GI Bill Information:
For GI Bill payment related questions please contact the GI Bill Hotline 1-888-442-4551.
Additional information about utilizing GI Bill benefits can be found at the bottom of this page under the " GI Bill" and "Other Useful Links" sections.
The Wisconsin GI Bill remits (forgives) full tuition and segregated fees for eligible veterans and their dependents for up to eight semesters or 128 credits, whichever is greater, at any University of Wisconsin System or Wisconsin Technical College System school. A similar program is available for students attending private colleges and universities in Wisconsin that are members of Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU). These are state authorized programs, not federal, and are only available to veterans who are attending either a UW System school, Wisconsin Technical College, or WAICU member school.
The Wisconsin GI Bill and companion WAICU program are remissions run through the individual schools and completely separate from the Federal GI Bill. These programs are not administered or implemented by the Wisconsin SAA or Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, and as such, we cannot provide information about these programs and how they can potentially impact decisions on college financing.
If you are trying to determine how these programs could finance college after utilizing Federal VA education payments, please speak with the School Certifying Official at the school you are currently, or potentially going to attend. They can assist you with understanding the process of eligibility and how these programs work once you've utilized Federal benefits.
About the Wisconsin SAA
Larry Graves||Andrew Martin||
Education Consultant||Education Consultant||Veterans Program Specialist - Senior|
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org||Email: email@example.com|
Phone: 608-266-3731||Phone: 608-261-8771|
Bureau of Programs and Services Director, SAA Director|
There are more than 125 schools/training facilities and 350 OJT and Apprenticeship sites approved for GI Bill benefits in Wisconsin. The economic impact of the federal GI Bill benefits paid to Wisconsin Veterans and dependents constitutes nearly $30 million annually.
On an annual basis, the SAA:
Additionally, our SAA is a member of the National Association of State Approving Agencies (NASAA). This association facilities working together with other SAA's safeguard quality education and training programs for veterans, advocate for greater education and training opportunities for veterans, and protect the integrity of the GI Bill.
Other Useful Links
“GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).”