State Approving Agency

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​SAA Logo.png

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..


For School 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. 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)

​Flight (FLT)

​Licensing/Certification Exam (LACAS)

​Universities, colleges, community colleges, technical and/or business schools, offering instruction at the post-secondary level, which leads to an associate (or higher) educational degree. To be eligible for approval, the institution must be empowered by the appropriate state education authority (under state law), or accredited by a recognized accrediting agency to grant such degrees. This designation also includes hospitals that offer educational programs at the post-secondary level.

​This category includes certificate programs which do not lead to a standard college degree. (Program achievements are acknowledged by certificate). NCD programs are normally offered at community colleges, cosmetology institutions, business institutions, hospitals, trade schools, etc. To be eligible for approval, institutions should be operating for at least two years and approved by the Wisconsin Department of Safety & Professional Services Educational Approval Program or classified as exempt.

This is an 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. OJT and Apprenticeships offer a variety of training experiences. A majority of trades are approvable providing that the establishment can satisfy the approval criteria, which includes program length, wage scale/progression, related instruction (APP), and a written training agreement.

Flight Training 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.​

This category is for agencies that award licensing or certifications which demonstrates an individual's possession of the knowledge or skill required to enter into, maintain, or advance in employment in a predetermined and identified vocation or profession.​​


​​​​​Types of Approvals:

​​Initial Approval:

Initial approval involves the approval of one or more programs at a new, previously unapproved institution or a new program at a currently approved institution​. While SAA approval is program specific, 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. At many schools, all or most of the currently offered programs are approved, leading us to use interchangeably the terms "institutional approval" and "program approval." What we are actually doing is approving programs and the institutional policies that underlie them.

Revised Approval:

Revised approvals may involve a change in institutional or program status which may have impact on: policy, name, location, accreditation, program design (e.g., length), school ownership, or other factors covered in the regulations and requiring SAA review and approval. A revised approval may occur at any time after initial approval and is usually precipitated by either institutional notification to the SAA or as a result of findings during a visit. 

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 acquire certified copies of these new publications – review, analyze and approve them – and forward them to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at minimum every two years. This is a form of revised approval of the institution and its programs.​


​How Do I Have My Facility Approved for Use of GI Bill Benefits?

GI Bill.png

​If your facility is not currently approved for use of GI Bill benefits and you would like to begin the initial approval process, please contact the Wisconsin SAA:

Email: saamail@dva.wi.gov​ ​
Phone: 608-261-8771

​Before we begin the formal approval process we will ask some general information on your type of facility, programs offered, and accreditation/EAP approval status. Next, we will request documentation and forward you additional paperwork to complete. Once documentation has been reviewed by our Education Consultants, we will schedule a facility visit before making a final determination of approval and submitting your application to the VA for final authorization.


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 only 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.

  • SCOTrainingLogoTransparent.pngAdditions or deletions of occupational trades

  • Changes to apprenticeship standards

  • Changes in training outlines

  • Changes in certifying official(s)

​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.​

For Veterans and Beneficiaries


​Approved Schools & Courses:

Wondering if the school or training institution you are interested in attending is approved for VA educational benefits? ​

To see what institutions are currently approved for the GI Bill you can use 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.​

If you have a question for a State Approving Agency located in another state or not sure that your program is approved in that state then CLICK HERE

​​​​​​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.​

Additional Information:

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.


About the Wisconsin SAA


​Our Team:

​​Larry Graves​
Andrew Martin
​Sebastian Walters
​Education Consultant
Education Consultant
Veterans Program Specialist
​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

​David Melby
​Bureau Director of Programs and Services, SAA Director
​Email: david.melby1@dva.wisconsin.gov
​Phone: 608-267-7135​


Our Work:

There are more than 200 institutions and 350 OJTs 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:

  • ​Reviews and processes over 600 academic programs at institution of higher learning (IHL) and 700 programs at non-college degree (NCD) institutions including:

    • Colleges and Universities

    • Vocational Schools

    • Business Schools

    • Professional Schools

    • Vocational Flight Schools

    • High Schools

    • Apprenticeships

    • On-the-Job Training Programs

    • Licensing and Certification Testsseal.png

  • 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), working together with other state SAA's to 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.


G.I. Bill Information


For GI Bill payment related questions please contact the GI Bill Hotline 1-888-442-4551.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the “Forever GI Bill,” was signed into law on August 17, 2017, and brings significant changes to Veterans’ education benefits over the next few years. Most enhance or expand education benefits for Veterans, service members, families and survivors. More information about GI Bill benefits, as well as the Wisconsin GI Bill can be found in the links below:


    Apprentice.PNG     Sponsor.PNG WI GI Bill pin.JPG


Other Useful Links