The National Association of State Approving Agencies (NASAA) helps make the GI Bill work. NASAA facilitates the efforts of its member State Approving Agencies (SAAs) in promoting and safeguarding quality education and training programs for veterans, ensuring greater education and training opportunities for veterans, and protecting the integrity of the GI Bill.
NASAA is made up of more than 50 state agencies nationwide that oversee education and training programs for veterans in their respective states. Some states have separate SAAs for different types of training (schools vs. on-job, for example) but most states have a single agency to evaluate, approve, and monitor education and training programs for use by GI Bill-eligible students. SAAs provide assistance to schools and training facilities that are approved or are seeking approval. SAAs’ approval decisions are transmitted to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs so that VA can pay benefits when students enroll. SAAs play a major role in monitoring schools with approved programs to assure they continue to comply with state and federal law.
NASAA works hand-in-hand with other organizations to make the GI Bill the best possible educational assistance program for our nation’s veterans. NASAA members work with government agencies, Congress, schools, and employers to assure that veterans have access to well-managed, ethical programs they can trust to help them achieve their goals.
A LITTLE HISTORY
State Approving Agencies were created during the early days of the World War II “GI Bill of Rights.” The United States Congress, recognizing that education is a function reserved to the States, decided that each State should create or designate an agency to determine which education and training programs were appropriate for veterans to enroll in and use their GI Bill education benefits. The law establishing the education benefits program requested each State’s Governor to designate such a State Approving Agency. Laws creating subsequent education benefits, like the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill, continued this request.
In 1948, the State Approving Agencies saw a need to coordinate their efforts nationwide and gathered to form the National Association of State Approving Agencies. Then, as now, NASAA assisted states in their efforts to do a better job for veteran-students and served as a tool to resolve mutual problems. NASAA and SAAs have been an outstanding example of the success of a State-Federal partnership that allows Federal interests to be pursued at the local level while preserving the identity, interests and sovereignty of States’ rights in education. NASAA also has increased its influence in the realms of education and veterans benefits over the years, playing major roles in creation of new programs, such as the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
The primary focus of the SAAs continues to be the review, evaluation and approval of quality programs of education and training under State and Federal criteria. SAAs continue to conduct on-site supervisory/compliance visits to approved institutions and to those seeking approval, providing technical assistance to help them meet requirements. SAAs engage in outreach activities to encourage wider use of the GI Bill, by veterans, schools, and employers. Many act as state liaisons, helping military installations provide base personnel with quality educational offerings and information about education benefits.
Yet, while their fundamental role has remained the same, SAAs have evolved in response to the changes in our society over the years since World War II. SAAs and NASAA have become advocates for quality education and training for veterans and other eligible persons. They have become educational partners with the institutions themselves, facilitating even greater and more diverse educational opportunities for veterans. They have become strong advocates for the usage of the GI Bill and have developed a working partnership with the federal government which other federal agencies have tried to emulate.
As state and national priorities change, as the function of government undergoes continuous re-examination, and as the needs of our veterans evolve, state approving agencies stand ready to meet the challenges before them. Yet in spite of the need for new approaches and technologies, differing styles of oversight and enhanced criteria for performance, the fundamental reasons for which the SAAs were originally created remain as valid today as they were in the beginning.
Find your state’s State Approving Agency.