State Approving Agency

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Our Mission


​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 surveys at these facilities to ensure eligible students are paid accurately while protecting the integrity of the GI Bill® from predatory or fraudulent schools.

Educational Institutions and Training Facilities


​Types of 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)

​Flight (FLT)

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 or meeting 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 qualfied educational instution. High school facilities are approved as an NCD program through a modified approval process.  


​How Are Facilities Approved for Accepting VA Education Benefits?

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​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: saamail@dva.wi.gov​ ​

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. 

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​Image Courtesy of US Department of Veterans Affairs


Certifying Officials and School C​ertifying Officials


​Upon approval of the program, the school/employer/sponsor agrees to designate a person(s) who will be the Certifying Official(s). 

SCOTrainingLogoTransparent.png 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:

  • 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)

If you are a Certifying Official, and curious who should handle specific questions regarding VA program approvals and certifications, please reference​ the table below:​
SCO Resource Matrix.JPG 

​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.

School Certifying Hotline​:

Hotline phone number for SCO's to call and have direct answers to more complex questions: 1-855-225-1159​

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


Schools & Courses:

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

​​​​​​Apprenticeship/OJT:​

If you have questions about apprenticeship/OJT approvals contact Sebastian Walters, Veterans Program Specialist at 608-261 8771 or ​​sebastian.walters@dva.wisconsin.gov

Consumer Protections:​

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. saamail@dva.wi.gov​ ​

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.​​


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Wisconsin GI Bill Information:

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​. The Wisconsin GI Bill is a state program that is entirely separate from the Federal GI Bill.​​ A similar program is available for students attending private colleges and universities in Wisconsin that are members of WAICU​.

These programs are not administered or overseen by the Wisconsin SAA. More information can be found on the program's website: Wisconsin GI Bill Tuition Grant 

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About the Wisconsin SAA


​Our Team:

​​Larry Graves​
Andrew Martin
​Sebastian Walters
​Education Consultant
Education Consultant
Veterans Program Specialist - Senior
​Email: ​larry2.graves@dva.wisconsin.gov
​Email: andrew.martin1@dva.wisconsin.gov
​Email: sebastian.walters@dva.wisconsin.gov
​Phone: 608-267-7329
​Phone: 608-266-3731
​Phone: 608-261-8771

​April Heim​
​Bureau of Programs and Services Director, SAA Director
​Email: april.heim1@dva.wisconsin.gov
​Phone: 608-267-7135​​​


Our Work:

There are more than 150 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:

  • seal.png Reviews and processes over 600 academic programs at institution of higher learning (IHL) and 700 programs at non-college degree (NCD) institutions
  • Oversees the approval and compliance of over 300 OJTs and apprenticeships
  • Conducts over 30 on-site school and OJT/apprenticeship compliance and licensing visits per year

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).”
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