VetA Guide for Schools Seeking Approval to Offer Programs for Veterans Benefits

A Guide for Schools Seeking Approval to Offer Programs for Veterans Benefits

What requires approval?

Publications like catalogs, student handbooks and class schedules.

Programs that lead to an immediate vocational goal, such as a degree, certificate, postgraduate residency or non collegiate technical or trade program. (Approval for programs offered at branch campuses or facilities than main campuses is handled separately.)

Policies concerning attendance academic progress, evaluation of credit for education and training student conduct and specific types of instruction like television courses, independent study, distance learning, practicums or internships. Also includes developmental programs.

Any changes, to these publications programs or policies must be reported to the Office of Higher Education. Failure to do so may result in suspension of approval and the interruption of benefits provided to veterans.

How to apply for approval

There are three types of approval; Initial Approval, Re Approval and Revised Approval.

Initial Approval refers to the first time approval of a program/school/college.
To gain approval for a school or college you need to submit a complete application to the Office of Higher Education and may also have to undergo a site visit. If you’re introducing a program at an already approved institution a letter will be sufficient and there might be a possibility of a site visit.

If your school or college is applying for the time you should send a written request to the Office of Higher Education asking for an application package. Additionally please mention whether;

  • Your institution has been operating continuously for least two years (applicable only to private schools offering non college degree programs new branch campuses and contract courses).
  • Your institution is accredited by either an specialized accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education for financial aid purposes. In case you’re unsure about your accreditation status feel free to contact the Office of Higher Education.
  • You are licensed by a Connecticut state licensing body.

Re approval; Periodically the Office of Higher Education will. Update an institutions approval status. This process begins with a letter from the Office of Higher Education requesting copies of your schools publications and other relevant information.

The timing for these requests depends on factors such, as the type of institution and the expiration date mentioned in its last approved catalog. Institutions must promptly inform the Office of Higher Education whenever they release versions of their catalogs.

Revised Approval; During the period between approvals, any specific changes such as introducing programs will be considered as modifications to the existing approval.

To obtain revised approval schools need to provide written notification to the Office of Higher Education in the following instances;

  • When they print updated catalogs, handbooks or schedules. Two sets of each publication should be sent to the Office of Higher Education with certification from a school official that confirms the accuracy and adherence to policies.
  • When they introduce programs.
  • When they change program names or curricula. (For profit schools should also include information about changes in program duration and clock hours.)
  • When they appoint Certifying Officials.
  • When they add facilities or branch campuses. Change their address.
  • When there is a change in ownership.
  • When there are revisions in accreditation or state licensure status.
  • When there are alterations made to approved policies related to standards of progress, attendance, student conduct, credit for previous learning and policies regarding practicums, independent study or cooperative education opportunities.

Which types of programs/schools require approval?

Any educational institution that enrolls or is likely to enroll veterans in programs must obtain approval, from the Connecticut Office of Higher Education.
Here are some examples;

  • Colleges and universities
  • occupational schools
  • Hairdressing and cosmetology schools
  • Hospital training and residency programs
  • High school diploma, G.E.D. Or post diploma certificate programs
  • College entrance exam preparatory programs
  • Organizations or agencies that provide licensing or certification tests

What does approval cover?

Accredited institutions receive approval, in the areas mentioned below. Non accredited institutions have requirements as indicated as well.The Office of Higher Education will assess whether a school is meeting the requirements, in each of these areas taking into account regulations state statutes and current practices.

Approval Criteria

Non-Accredited Institutions

Accredited Institutions

Period of Operation CFR 21.4251 CFR 21.4251
Accreditation Status CFR 21.4254(a) CFR 21.4253
Quality, Content and Length CFR 21.4254(c)(1) CFR 21.4253
Qualifications of Personnel CFR 21.4254(c)(1), (c)(2), (c)(3), (c)(12) CFR 21.4253
Adequacy of Facilities CFR 21.4254(b)(10), (c)(2) CFR 21.4253
Financial Soundness CFR 21.4254(c)(9)
Advertising, Sales, Enrollment Practices CFR 21.4252(h), CFR 21.4254(c)(10) CFR 21.4252(h)
Enrollment Policy CFR 21.4254(b)(4) CFR 21.4253(e)(2)
School Calendar CFR 21.4254(b)(3), (c)(1)
Fee Schedule CFR 21.4254(b)(8)
Refund Policy CFR 21, 4254(c)(13), (b)(9), CFR 21.4255
Attendance Policy CFR 21.4254(b)(5) CFR 21.4253(d)(2)
Progress Standards CFR 21.4254(b)(6), (c)(7) CFR 21.4253(d)(1), (d)(2), (s)(4)
Conduct Policy CFR 21.4254(b)(7), (c)(7) CFR 21.4253(d)(1)(i), (d)(4)
Credit for Previous Education CFR 21.4254(b)(12), (c)(4) CFR 21.4253(d)(3)
Programs Precluded CFR 21.4252,  CFR 21.4265(a) CFR 21.4252
Enrollment Limitations CFR 21.4201,  CFR 21.4254(c)(11) CFR 21.4201
Programs at a Branch or Extension CFR 21.4266 CFR 21.4266
Program Outlines CFR 21.4254(c)(5), (b)(11)
Resident Instruction CFR 21.4200(o)(i), (g), (r); 21.4280(f) CFR 21.4200(o)(i), (g), (r); 21.4280(f)
Cooperative Training CFR 21.4233(a) CFR 21.4233(a)
Correspondence CFR 21.4200(o)(iii),  CFR 21.4256 CFR 21.4200(o)(iii),  CFR 21.4256
Independent Study CFR 21.4280(c) CFR 21.4280(c)
Practical Training CFR 21.4265 CFR 21.4265
Combinations of Instruction CFR 21.4233,  CFR 21.4273(c),  CFR 21.4279 CFR 21.4233,  CFR 21.4273(c),  CFR 21.4279

The role of the certifying official is crucial in institutions. This designated person, appointed by a school or college acts as a liaison between the institution and the Office of Higher Education. Their primary responsibility is to inform the Office of any changes that require approval and provide certified copies of the schools publications. During site and supervisory visits the Certifying Official collaborates with Office staff sharing files and information. It’s important to note that these responsibilities are in addition to their duty of VA Enrollment Certification.

Supervisory visits differ from site visits as they are conducted annually by the Office of Higher Education. The purpose is to assess an institutions compliance with veterans approval requirements. During a visit schools should maintain comprehensive files for each veteran including attendance records, transfer credits, student transcripts and enrollment status. Additionally there may be requests for meetings, with staff members, faculty and students made by the Office of Higher Education.

What are the requirements for maintaining approval?

To ensure approval both accredited and non accredited schools and colleges must adhere to the following criteria;

1. The institutions catalog, bulletin or addendum should include;

  • Standards of progress that define the grading system, minimum satisfactory grades, conditions for addressing grades or progress details about probationary periods and conditions for dismissal and readmittance.
  • An attendance policy.
  • A conduct policy.
  • Progress records provided to students.

2. The school must maintain;

  • A documented record of a veterans education and training that clearly indicates appropriate credit for prior learning has been granted, resulting in shortened training duration proportionately.
  • Comprehensive individual records containing the outcomes of each enrollment period, including all courses taken and corresponding grades earned.
  • Sufficient records demonstrating each veterans progress, including notices of course withdrawals and dates of attendance.
  • Attendance records of veterans enrolled in courses that do not lead to standard college degrees.
  • Evidence supporting that tuition fees charged to veterans are identical to those charged to other students.
  • Complete records and copies of all advertising materials sales related documents and enrollment materials used by or, on behalf of the school during the preceding 12 months.
  • Veteran certification files retained for three years after a veteran leaves the institution.

3. The school has agreed to the following terms;

  • Enforce all policies.
  • If veterans fail to make academic progress the school will notify the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Any changes in credit hours or attendance including interruptions or terminations will be promptly reported to the Department of Veterans Affairs within 30 days.
  • Any changes that affect approved programs, such as location, course offerings, degree requirements and academic regulations will be communicated to the Office of Higher Education.
  • During business hours all necessary records will be made available to representatives from the Office of Higher Education and veterans officials during periodic on site visits.
  • Additionally for accredited schools the following conditions regarding refunds and evaluations apply;

Evaluations must be conducted on various aspects including program quality, content and duration; qualifications of personnel; adequacy of resources and financial stability; as well, as school calendars and fee schedules.

Refund Policy

A fair refund policy should ensure that the amount paid for tuition, fees and other charges for a portion of a course does not exceed the share of the total charges for the completed portion of the course compared to its overall length.

If registration fees exceed $10 they will be subject to the refund policy based on the share.

Breakage fees will only cover the cost of breakage with any remaining amount to be refunded.

Only charges for supplies that have been used can be retained, while any unused supplies will be refunded in full.

For books, supplies and equipment provided by the school but not issued to students a full refund will be given. Students are allowed to handle issued items as they see fit.

If there is a refund policy that’s more favorable to veterans than a proportionate refund it will be considered acceptable. Otherwise schools may charge up to 10% from the proportionate share of tuition, fees and other charges based on completed instructional days compared to total course length. The exact proportionate share will be determined by calculating the ratio of days in relation, to the entire course duration.

Who to contact:

For questions on program or institutional approval: Office of Higher Education

Veterans should contact: Hartford Area Regional Office

School and college officials should call: VA Educational Liaison Representative

Common Terminology Glossary

Institution of Higher Learning refers to institutions like colleges, universities, technical or business schools that offer postsecondary instruction leading to an associate or higher degree. It can also include hospitals that provide programs regardless of whether they grant degrees.

Independent Study
This is a method where students interact with faculty but don’t have regularly scheduled class sessions.

Matriculation means being accepted as a student or a degree candidate in an approved program at an institution.

Non College Degree Program (NCD) is a program that offers courses leading to technical, business, professional or vocational diplomas or certificates.

NonAccredited Program
A non accredited program refers to a program that hasn’t been evaluated by a nationally approved accrediting agency or one that hasn’t met the accreditation standards.

Period of Operation
The period of operation refers to the duration during which a program has been open for enrollment and has enrolled students.

Practical Training
Practical training involves field or laboratory experiences that allow students to apply the theories they have studied.

This refers to the status achieved when an educational program or institution voluntarily evaluates itself in relation to the standards and goals set by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Approval Criteria
These are the state standards used by State Approving Agencies to assess programs and institutions.

A branch is a location of a school or college.

Certifying Official
A certifying official is a representative from an institution who has been authorized to sign and submit documents that verify a veterans enrollment changes in status, receipt of advance payment and any other circumstances that may affect the amount or duration of their educational benefits.

CFR (Code of Federal Regulations)
The CFR refers to interpretations of the United States Code compiled by agencies.

Clock Hour
A clock hour is a unit of measurement used to acknowledge a students completion of a course number of job hours or achievement of specific skills.

Credit for Education, Experience and Training
When an educational institution recognizes the education experience and training received by a veteran prior to entering an instructional program it usually leads to a reduction, in their total program requirement.

Credit Hour
A credit hour is a unit of measurement used to recognize a students completion of a course based on semester or quarter term systems.

DVA (Department of Veterans Affairs)
DVA stands for Department of Veterans Affairs.The Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office known as DVACO is responsible for receiving and assessing veterans applications for benefits. They determine the amount and duration of these benefits. Also handle program evaluation information from State Approving Agencies.

Veterans receive monetary assistance, known as Educational Assistance Allowance while they are enrolled in approved instructional programs.

An educational institution refers to any independent secondary school, vocational school, correspondence school, business school, two year or four year college, university, professional school, scientific or technical institution or any other adult instruction provider.

The educational objective refers to the goal of a program such as earning an associates degree a bachelors degree, a masters degree, a certificate or a diploma.

ELR stands for Educational Liaison Representative who works at offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Their responsibilities include processing information from State Approving Agencies and transferring it to DVA forms. They collaborate with officials regarding veterans certification and evaluate institutions to ensure compliance, with veterans certification requirements.

G.E.D. Stands for General Educational Development. It is an achievement test that leads to a certificate to a high school diploma.

The GI Bill is legislation that was enacted after World War II. It provides educational and readjustment benefits to veterans.

The goal of a program may involve obtaining professional licenses such as becoming an engineer or achieving board certification as a neurosurgeon.

The State Approving Agency (SAA) is an agency for evaluating instructional programs as mandated by federal laws administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Similar in Character
When we say two programs are similar in character it means that they have the overall educational objective and utilize similar or related instructional processes, tools and materials within a school.

Two Year Rule
According to regulations an approved private non degree program provider must have been operating for at least two years.

USC stands for United States Code. It is a compilation of federal laws.

A veteran is someone who has served in the United States Armed Forces. It also includes individuals who’re eligible to receive veterans education benefits such as active duty military personnel, reservists, guardsmen, spouses, widows and dependents.

Veterans Education Benefits
Veterans education benefits refer to educational assistance provided as compensation for service in the Armed Forces.

Vocational Objective
A vocational objective represents the goal of a program that aims to develop occupational skills necessary, for entry level employment.

Program Approval
Program approval involves the evaluation conducted by a State Approving Agency to ensure compliance with federal and state requirements, for veterans instructional programs.

Program of Education
A program of education refers to the combination of subjects, unit courses or training activities that are required to fulfill educational, professional or vocational objectives.

Pro Rata Refund
When a student withdraws from a term they may receive a rata refund. This means that the refund amount is determined based on the ratio of remaining days of instruction to the days of instruction in that term.

Purpose of this Guide;

Every year veterans in Connecticut receive around $4 million in funding to support their educational expenses. However these benefits are only granted if veterans attend programs, schools or colleges that have gained approval. This guide is intended for school and college officials. Aims to outline the requirements for obtaining approval for educational programs that enroll veterans.

Such approval ensures that these programs lead to a recognized degree or help veterans achieve professional goals. Additionally it allows the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to determine the amount and duration of benefits monitor a veterans academic progress and evaluate earned credits. In Connecticut the Office of Higher Education acts as the State Approving Agency for veterans programs in accordance with Title 38 of the United States Code.

Jayson Peterson is an experienced pharmacist, naturopathic physician, medical examiner, and minister. After earning his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, Jayson Peterson completed clinical rotations at several prestigious healthcare institutions and has been affiliated with several pharmacy chains throughout his career. His main passion and zeal is focused on providing world-class patient care by giving precise details and thorough instructions to those who need it most.


Subscribe Today


Expert content on a wide variety of Education topics. Always stay up to date!

* About our Privacy Policy

Exclusive content

More article