SAA Approval Process


The Approval Process for Schools & Programs

The chief administrative officer or other designated official must request an application for approval to train veterans and other eligible persons under Title 38, USC. The SAA will send an approval application packet or explain why the process should not be initiated. 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 New Mexico 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 who will serve as the school’s point of contact for veterans’ education benefits. This person is designated by the VA as the School Certifying Official (SCO).

Following the approval visit, the SAA may recommend final actions to be completed by the school for approval. 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 SCO for certifying enrollment for payment of educational benefits. This process generally takes 60-90 days depending upon the completeness of the application materials.

Schools, training facilities and testing organizations that are under the jurisdiction of the SAA for the approval of veterans’ education benefits may contact the SAA to begin the approval process.

Approved Programs in New Mexico – On the United States map, filter your selection by “Program Type,” then select NM.  You will be able to obtain a list of the most currently approved programs in the state. Click here.

State Approving Agency
5201 Eagle Rock Ave, Suite 1A
Albuquerque, NM 87113
Telephone: (505) 383-2431
Fax: (505) 383-2413
SAA E-mail

Marilyn Dykman
SAA Director
Phone: (505) 383-2418
Email: Marilyn Dykman

Nancy Soto
Program Specialist
Phone: (505) 383-2431
Email: Nancy Soto


The New Mexico State Approving Agency (SAA) evaluates, approves, and monitors certain 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 SAA operates under a contract with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as part of the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services (NMDVS) and is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The New Mexico SAA is under the administration of the VA Regional Processing Office (RPO) in Muskogee, OK.

The State Approving Agency (SAA) – Approval Authority

The SAA is responsible for the approval of ALL NEW schools, training facilities and non-governmental testing organizations.  The SAA has new or revised program approval jurisdiction at the following:

  • Accredited and Non-Accredited Programs
  • On-The- Job Training/Apprenticeship Programs
  • High Schools
  • Licensing and Certificates
  • Flight Training

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, and licensing and certification tests that may be approved for veterans and other eligible persons at applicable schools and testing organizations.
  • Determine whether a school or testing organization complies with established standards, including the equitable treatment of veterans.
  • Identify waste, fraud, or other abuse by persons, practices, or policy connected with educational institutions, training establishments and testing organizations 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, training institutions, and approved programs, comply with all applicable provisions of the laws administered by VA.

The SAA ensures that standards are set and maintained among applicable schools, training facilities and testing organizations prior to allowing veterans or other eligible persons to enroll and use their GI Bill® benefits. For more information about GI Bill Education Benefits go to:

Marilyn (Mandy) Dykman, who prior to coming to the NMDVS worked as the Director and School Certifying Official at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Veterans Resource Center, manages the SAA. She served eight years with the Army as a UH-1 Huey Pilot, and then transferred to the Coast Guard in 1991, becoming the first female Hispanic pilot—she flew the HH65 Dolphin helicopter, conducting search/rescue, fisheries, law enforcement patrols and marine safety. Mandy eventually retired from the Coast Guard in 2004.

SAA Director Mandy Dykman can be contacted at (505) 383-2418 or   More information about the SAA can be found at