A HISTORY OF THE SAA CONCEPT
All states and the District of Columbia have at least one SAA. There are also SAAs in American Somoa, Guam, Northern Marianna Islands, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands. As the federal GI Bill® can be used for different types of training, several states have split their offices between two or three state agencies depending on how the benefit will be used. Some states have one agency to approve school programs, another agency to approve on-the-job training, and possibly a third to approve advanced flight schools.
Congress determined that each state should create agencies to approve the programs within their borders and determine which programs were appropriate for VA education benefits. The first SAAs were formed after World War II. Within two years, the individual state agencies realized that a national association would be useful to resolve common problems, set standards of contract performance, establish job specifications for SAA staff, and provide feedback regarding the effectiveness of the GI Bill®. The National Association of State Approving Agencies (NASAA) was formed in 1948 to achieve these objectives.
As an entity within state government that acts on behalf of the federal government, the SAA has become an outstanding example of state and federal partnership as it provides essential local support to the federal program, yet preserves the individuality regarding education within each state.
The primary focus of the SAA continues to be the review, evaluation, and approval of programs of education and training that meet state and federal criteria. The SAA conducts on-site supervisory visits to approved institutions and inspection visits to schools seeking approval. The SAA also provides technical assistance to interested parties upon request. The SAA is also engaged in outreach activities to promote the use of the GI Bill®.
In August 2011 with the passage of Public Law 111-377, The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, SAAs were tasked with supporting the VA in Compliance Surveys of approved schools, while at the same time were relieved of approving specific schools deemed approved by the VA.
The mission statement of the National Association of State Approving Agencies (NASAA) summarizes the operation of the New Mexico SAA.
The purpose of the National Association of State Approving Agencies is to work in cooperation with its partners: (1) to facilitate the efforts of the state approving agencies to promote and safeguard quality education and training programs for all Veterans and other eligible persons; (2) to ensure greater education and training opportunities that meet the changing needs of Veterans; and (3) to protect the GI Bill® resources available for those programs.
The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 is the formal name of the GI Bill® of Rights, or just “GI Bill®,” of which the Montgomery GI Bill® and Post-9/11 GI Bill® are the current versions. Each SAA continues to insure the original intent of the GI Bill®: ”To transition military personnel to civilian life and employment through education and training.”
The first Secretary of Veterans Affairs, General Omar Bradley, created the infrastructure to serve the 16 million returning GIs of World War II, a huge achievement. The GI Bill® often has been named the most significant piece of legislation in American history for its impact on our society, culture, and economy.
State Approving Agency
5201 Eagle Rock Ave, Suite 2A
Albuquerque, NM 87122
Telephone: (505) 383-2431
Fax: (505) 383-2413