State Approving Agency


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 GI Bill® may be used for an undergraduate or graduate degree, a vocational certificate or diploma, a high school diploma, or GED (General Education Development certificate). Types of training that may be approved include high school equivalency diplomas, advanced flight training, correspondence training for college work only, or programs leading to a license or certificate required to practice a vocation or profession.  The GI Bill® also can be used for apprenticeship or on-the-job (OJT) training. Contact the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions for information.

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

The Purpose of the New Mexico SAA 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 and training institutions and approved programs, are in compliance 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. The process includes review of the following areas:

  • Academic and training programs or licensing and certification tests
  • Structural facilities, equipment and teaching resources used for education, training or testing
  • Faculty credentials and standards of employment
  • Ownership, leadership, and administration reputation and competence

Other services performed include:

  • Technical assistance regarding approval criteria or GI Bill® benefits
  • Workshops and school visits to train new certifying officials
  • Consumer protection for veterans as they use their VA benefits
  • Outreach services to interested groups and organizations
  • Liaison and referral to related agencies for GI Bill® recipient assistance

The following veterans’ education benefits, administered by the VA, are available for eligible persons to use when enrolled in approved programs. There are also known by their chapter number within Title 38, USC:

For more information about GI Bill Education Benefits go to:


The SAA is managed by 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. She served eight years with the Army as a Huey Pilot, 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

 State Approving AgencyMandy

Marilyn Dykman, Director

(505) 383-2418