A Little history … Congress passes the GI Bill in June 1944
The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more popularly known as the G. I. Bill of Rights was introduced in Congress in January 1944, and President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into law on June 22, 1944. The G. I. Bill provided books, tuition, and a monthly stipend for veterans who enrolled in colleges and universities. Over 2 million veterans attended college on the G.I. Bill, and it is estimated that, in 1947, veterans accounted for 49% of college students. Another 5 million veterans attended vocational schools or participated in on-the-job training opportunities funded through the G. I. Bill. The unemployment pay included in the G.I. Bill was known as 52/20 Club, which provided a payment of $20 a week for up to 52 weeks while veterans looked for jobs following their discharge. Another important provision of the G.I. Bill was low interest, zero down payment home loans for servicemen. This enabled millions of American families to move out of urban apartments and into suburban homes.
With an assist from veterans’’ organizations, the Veterans Administration scrambled to inform GIs of their rights. As they were discharged, soldiers and sailors received a VA pamphlet, Going Back to Civilian Life, and a Handbook for Service Men and Service Women of World War II and Their Dependents, which laid out the key provisions of the GI Bill. The American Legion distributed 2.7 million copies of Gateway to Opportunity, which contained capsule descriptions of all of the benefits, and a half million “Open Letter to GIs” folders, which reviewed the loan provisions.
Congress also recognized that it was the responsibility of the State to determine the education of its citizens. It was decided that each state would establish a “State Approving Agency” and that the governor of each state would designate a state bureau or department as the SAA for the state. The SAA would be supported through funding, under contract, from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This evolved as a cooperative federal-state effort that maintained states’ rights while monitoring and protecting a federally sponsored program administered under the terms and conditions of federal laws. Establishment of the Federal-State Partnership
Initially, the SAA’s role was to provide information on state approved programs to the VA. By the late 1940s and early 1950s, the SAAs were operating under specifically mandated federal standards, the Code of Federal Regulations, and providing approval and oversight activities. The SAAs became the primary source of assuring institutional accountability with specialized authorization exercising the state’s authority to approve, disapprove and monitor education and training programs for veterans and began to assist states and the VA with exposing fraudulent and criminal activity involving the payment of veterans’ benefits.
In 1948, SAA representatives met to form an organization, the National Association of State Approving Agencies (NASAA). With the formation of NASAA, the SAAs began to create professional standards for themselves. The organization established a forum for the exchange of ideas, the promotion of high professional standards, policies and ethical practices among its members and representation on mutual interests of issues coming before the membership. It also worked to protect both the schools and the veterans from fraud, waste and abuse. The organization continues to work to develop and maintain uniform standards for all SAAs.
The National Association of State Approving Agencies works 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. Our Mission Statement
While the primary “triad” providing education benefits to veterans consists of the VA, the SAA and the institution or training establishment, others also include additional government departments such as the Department of Education, the Department of Labor and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); accrediting bodies; and State licensing and certification agencies. We work with these additional organizations to share information and support one another as new programs and procedures are developed to meet the needs of the veteran community.
The Education Service, which we commonly refer to as the Central Office (CO) or the VA Central Office (VACO), is part of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), one of the arms of the VA. The VBA reports to the Under Secretary for Benefits. Education and training is one of several responsibilities of the VBA.
Of course, from an SAA management perspective, we are in closest partnership with VACO as they hold our contract. The partnership between the VA and the SAAs must be one of mutual trust and dependence. The VA, Education Services, provides instruction and guidance to the four Regional Processing Offices (RPOs) – Atlanta in the southern region, Buffalo in the northeast, St. Louis in the central region, and Muskogee in the western region. Such VACO instruction and guidance includes how to process education claims and do compliance surveys. VACO is also responsible for developing the applications and systems the RPOs need to process education claims.
At the Federal level laws are developed by Congress and at the state level by the State Legislatures. The SAAs often suggest to Congress ways to improve the education programs administered by the VA. The VA does this indirectly by putting improvements into the President’s legislative program, which the President may send to Congress. The resulting provisions will provide broad opportunities for all those eligible to receive VA benefits. NASAA continues to work on behalf of the SAAs in collaboration with VA to provide greater opportunities for veterans and others eligible. This collaborative effort also ensures the integrity of the programs that are approved and compliance with laws and regulations by those institutions and organizations that offer such programs.
This is THE document that actually conveys State / DVA approval for educational programs to be considered for payment under the GI Bill. It contains: o General information about your school o Programs and hours that are approved (or EXCLUDED…) o Calendars and Tuition and Fees o Unique programs or policies (Remedial / Branches, others…) o Requirements specific to your institution
o SAA Schedules Visits with the Institution o Program Specialist conducts the On-Site Visit reviewing: o Process Management (Prior credit, changes in attendance, etc.) o Records Management (Needed documentation is present) o Visit Reports maintained at the SAA with copy to DVA o Inspection Findings/Referrals (if any) require resolution with documentation of corrective action to SAA (approval issues) or referral to VA (payment issues).
The Post 9/11 GI Bill PL 111-377 2012 – 2013 Proposals
Effective August 1, 2009 A complex program ◦ Many levels of eligibility ◦ Confusing concurrent eligibility ◦ New benefits similar to original WW II GI Bill ◦ Difficult to understand and administer SAAs took on an even more important “consultant/trainer” role
Many Schools turned to SAAs for help with Post 9/11 Many SAAs voluntarily expand role to include more training and technical assistance for schools SAAs continue approval and oversight functions
Effective October 1, 2011 Many positives ◦ More programs covered by Post 9/11 ◦ More people eligible A Game Changer for SAAs ◦ Changed States’ approval authority ◦ SAAs acquire new role of assisting with compliance surveys
Changed States’ authority to approve programs ◦ Accredited, non-profit programs “deemed” approved without continuing State review ◦ States no longer process approvals for public and non-profit private institutions ◦ Approval AND disapproval authority given to Secretary of Veterans Affairs ◦ SAAs retained jurisdiction over for-profit schools
As a result of PL 111-377, now there are 3 different sections under 38 USC (aside from Flight, Correspondence, License/Certification and OJT/APP ): 3672 Approval of courses (“Deemed Approved”) (Authority to approve: SAA or VA). All standard college degree programs at public and private not for profit schools. Many FAA approved flight programs. Registered Apprenticeships. All State-approved High School Diplomas programs. Licensure test offered by a Federal, State, or local government. 3675 Accredited courses (Proprietary for-profit educational institutions) (Authority to approve: SAA or VA). 3676 Non-accredited courses. (Authority to approve: SAA).
“Deemed Approved” programs must meet the following criteria under 38 USC: 3675(b)(1) – Approval of Accredited Courses - Records and standards of progress. 3675(b)(2) –Approval of Accredited Courses - Records of previous education & training. 3680A – Disapproval of enrollment in certain courses. 3684 - Reports by veterans, eligible persons, and institutions; reporting fee. 3696 - Limitation on certain advertising, sales, and enrollment practices
(b) As a condition of approval under this section, the Secretary or the State approving agency must find the following: (1) The educational institution keeps adequate records, as prescribed by the Secretary or the State approving agency, to show the progress and grades of the eligible person or veteran and to show that satisfactory standards relating to progress and conduct are enforced. (2) The educational institution maintains a written record of the previous education and training of the eligible person or veteran that clearly indicates that appropriate credit has been given by the educational institution for previous education and training, with the training period shortened proportionately.
(a) The Secretary shall not approve the enrollment of an eligible veteran in— (1) any bartending course or personality development course; (2) any sales or sales management course which does not provide specialized training within a specific vocational field; (3) any type of course which the Secretary finds to be avocational or recreational in character (or the advertising for which the Secretary finds contains significant avocational or recreational themes) unless the veteran submits justification showing that the course will be of bona fide use in the pursuit of the veteran’s present or contemplated business or occupation; or (4) any independent study program except an accredited independent study program (including open circuit television) leading (A) to a standard college degree, or (B) to a certificate that reflects educational attainment offered by an institution of higher learning.
(d) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Secretary shall not approve the enrollment of any eligible veteran, not already enrolled, in any course for any period during which the Secretary finds that more than 85 percent of the students enrolled in the course are having all or part of their tuition, fees, or other charges paid to or for them by the educational institution or by the Department of Veterans Affairs under this title or under chapter 106 of title 10. The Secretary may waive the requirements of this subsection, in whole or in part, if the Secretary determines, pursuant to regulations which the Secretary shall prescribe, it to be in the interest of the eligible veteran and the Federal Government. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to any course offered by an educational institution if the total number of veterans and persons receiving assistance under this chapter or chapter 30, 31, 32, or 35 of this title or under chapter 106 of title 10 who are enrolled in such institution equals 35 percent or less, or such other percent as the Secretary prescribes in regulations, of the total student enrollment at such institution (computed separately for the main campus and any branch or extension of such institution), except that the Secretary may apply the provisions of this subsection with respect to any course in which the Secretary has reason to believe that the enrollment of such veterans and persons may be in excess of 85 percent of the total student enrollment in such course.1061010610
(e) The Secretary may not approve the enrollment of an eligible veteran in a course not leading to a standard college degree offered by a proprietary profit or proprietary nonprofit educational institution if— (1) the educational institution has been operating for less than two years; (2) the course is offered at a branch of the educational institution and the branch has been operating for less than two years; or (3) following either a change in ownership or a complete move outside its original general locality, the educational institution does not retain substantially the same faculty, student body, and courses as before the change in ownership or the move outside the general locality (as determined in accordance with regulations the Secretary shall prescribe) unless the educational institution following such change or move has been in operation for at least two years.
(f) The Secretary may not approve the enrollment of an eligible veteran in a course as a part of a program of education offered by an educational institution if the course is provided under contract by another educational institution or entity and— (1) the Secretary would be barred under subsection (e) from approving the enrollment of an eligible veteran in the course of the educational institution or entity providing the course under contract; or (2) the educational institution or entity providing the course under contract has not obtained approval for the course under this chapter.
(a) The Secretary shall not approve the enrollment of an eligible veteran or eligible person in any course offered by an institution which utilizes advertising, sales, or enrollment practices of any type which are erroneous, deceptive, or misleading either by actual statement, omission, or intimation.
(b) To ensure compliance with this section, any institution offering courses approved for the enrollment of eligible persons or veterans shall maintain a complete record of all advertising, sales, or enrollment materials (and copies thereof) utilized by or on behalf of the institution during the preceding 12-month period. Such record shall be available for inspection by the State approving agency or the Secretary. Such materials shall include but are not limited to any direct mail pieces, brochures, printed literature used by sales persons, films, video tapes, and audio tapes disseminated through broadcast media, material disseminated through print media, tear sheets, leaflets, handbills, fliers, and any sales or recruitment manuals used to instruct sales personnel, agents, or representatives of such institution.
PL 112-249 SEC. 2. PROHIBITION ON CERTAIN USES OF INDUCEMENTS BY EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS. Section 3696 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection: ``(d)(1) The Secretary shall not approve under this chapter any course offered by an educational institution if the educational institution provides any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based directly or indirectly on success in securing enrollments or financial aid to any persons or entities engaged in any student recruiting or admission activities or in making decisions regarding the award of student financial assistance. ``(2) To the degree practicable, the Secretary shall carry out paragraph (1) in a manner that is consistent with the Secretary of Education's enforcement of section 487(a)(20) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1094(a)(20)).''.
SAAs assist VA with compliance surveys ◦ 38 USC 3693 ◦ Primarily audits of a federal entitlement program ◦ Presently designed to determine compliance of school and appropriateness of VA payments ◦ Somewhat involved, lengthy administrative process with a slightly different focus that the old supervisory visit ◦ Greater focus on finances, not programs
Reduction in SAAs’ training and assistance to schools during visits (number of visits reduced by 50% in the first year) Reduction in help with program development
SAAs, as state agencies, believe states should approve schools and programs Accreditation, a good tool, is not the ONLY tool for approving programs ALL schools need both consistent oversight and technical assistance
MISSION State Approving Agencies help make the GI Bill work...
...ensuring that students know about and have access to well-managed, efficiently-run, educationally sound programs that they can trust to help them succeed in meeting their vocational goals.
VISION VISION SAAs are seen as significant contributors to an effective and responsive education benefit program...
... where every eligible person makes good choices about education and training opportunities they can trust, and where every approved school and training establishment offers programs from which students can benefit and understands and successfully fulfills its obligation to support VA students and the GI Bill.
◦ SAAs have responsibility to review, approve and monitor ALL education programs/schools within their States ◦ SAAs provide training and technical assistance to all schools, in cooperation with VA ◦ SAAs assist veterans with school/program and GI Bill benefit information ◦ SAAs assist VA with compliance surveys to insure institutional compliance.
Several bills in Congress ◦ Most mention improving oversight ◦ Most include increasing/improving information that is provided to veterans ◦ Many require more data reporting by schools ◦ Two include more comprehensive approval authority for SAAs again ◦ Most will not be passed this year.
NASAA, DVA and our other partners continue to work with Congress to inform the process ◦ Assist Members’ and Committees’ staffs with technical advice and information ◦ Suggest combined proposals, bills And we look forward to a continued partnership with DVA to serve our veterans!