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Old 03-10-2020, 06:02   #1
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VA suspends GI Bill certifications for five universities over deceptive enrollment pr


The Department of Veterans Affairs is suspending educational benefits for new students enrolling in programs at five universities, citing “erroneous, deceptive, or misleading” enrollment practices, Military Times has learned.

In an email to congressional offices, the VA identified University of Phoenix, Colorado Technical University, American InterContinental University, Bellevue University and Temple University as in violation of U.S. law which prohibits illegal “advertising, sales, or enrollment practices.”

The VA notified the schools of the agency’s intent to suspend program approvals and payment of educational assistance for the education and training of new Veterans and other eligible persons, the email states.

Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced their decision to end new enrollments for GI Bill beneficiaries at the University of Phoenix, Colorado Technical University, American InterContinental University, Bellevue University, and Temple University.

The agency’s suspension applies to all new enrollments, both “in residence and online,” effective May 9, 2020, “unless the schools can provide contrary evidence to refute the evidence provided that supports VA’s conclusion,” the email continues.

The suspension, however, will not affect those currently utilizing GI Bill benefits, as long as there are no breaks in enrollment for the students.

Our aim in taking this action is to protect Veterans and their dependents’ GI Bill benefits and comply with the law,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a press release. “The department is committed to helping beneficiaries avoid any negative consequences that may result.”

Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors is grateful that VA is taking actions to protect military connected students,” Ashlynne Haycock, deputy director of policy and legislation at TAPS told Military Times. “If VA and the Federal Trade Commission feel that certain schools have violated the law and their VA contract, they should not be eligible to receive those funds in the future.”

TAPS and others are standing by to support those students impacted, especially if they need help transferring to a different institution, Haycock added.

Military Times reached out to the five universities requesting comment and none immediately responded.

Ahead of the formal VA announcement, several veterans groups were preparing information packets for an expected flood of inquiries from students at the schools. VA is encouraging students attending or considering attending the schools to contact the department’s Education Call Center at 888-442-4551.

“VA has not taken corrective action against these schools lightly and are committed to help beneficiaries avoid or mitigate any negative consequences that may result,” the email added.

At the state level, “agencies responsible for approving courses at these schools may also take independent actions based on VA’s decision,” the press release stated.

If the state agencies “withdraw program approval," then the “VA’s authority to issue benefit payments to currently enrolled students as well as new students” would be removed, the release added.

According to the VA’s website, over 15,000 GI Bill students (which includes active duty, veterans and family members using benefits) attended the University of Phoenix online alone in the last year.

The university system had an additional nearly 9,000 students receiving benefits at physical locations nationwide and had nearly 600 complaints across its campuses. 332 complaints involved financial issues and/or student loans, 181 about educational quality and 114 about marketing practices.

Nearly 2,000 GI Bill students attended American InterContinental University both online and in person, according to the VA. The university has 25 complaints in the last two years across its campuses, including 14 about tuition, fees and student loans.

Colorado Technical University had over 5,000 GI Bill student attendees in the last year, mostly through their online program. The university had 198 student complaints in the last 24 months, including 112 about tuition and fees and 46 about recruiting and marketing practices, according the VA’s statistics.

Career Education Corporation, the parent company of both AIU and CTU, reached a $30 million settlement with the FTC and agreed to additionally pay nearly $500 million.

“This sends a powerful message...that the federal government and taxpayers will no longer tolerate schools that seek to defraud veterans and other military-connected students out of their hard-earned federal education benefits,” said Carrie Wofford, president at Veterans Education Success, a veterans advocacy group, in a press release. “Today’s decision by VA is more than justified based on the years of mounting evidence against University of Phoenix and Colorado Tech for maliciously defrauding veterans.”

In 2019, the FTC reached a $191 million settlement with the University of Phoenix and its parent company over deceptive advertising practices.

“The welfare of students is obviously or most pressing concern,” said Tanya Ang, vice president at Veterans Education Success. “We’re ready to support any student who wishes to transfer to a new GI Bill-approved school or needs free counseling and legal support on what to do next."

Officials from University of Phoenix say they will respond quickly to VA to ensure no disruptions take place.

“[University of Phoenix] is a leader in serving military and veteran students in the United States. Our students choose us because of the high degree of support services and convenient modes of learning we offer,” said a university spokesperson in an emailed statement to Military Times. “It’s important to note that no students or benefits are currently impacted by [VA’s] recent announcement. We will respond expeditiously to the VA’s teams that are handling the review process and we are working to assure no disruptions to existing or new students, now or in the future.

“In the meantime, let us be clear: after an FTC investigation that lasted more than five years, the one marketing campaign the Commission had issues with ended six years ago and occurred under prior ownership. The University admitted no wrongdoing in choosing to settle with the FTC and continues to believe we acted appropriately,” the statement continued. "We chose to settle to end the potential for protracted litigation that would impact our focus on our students. Our more than one million alumni are a testament to the value of our accredited University and career-relevant programs for adult learners.”

The university last year announced its intention to contest the FTC’s complaint, and it disputes the VA’s characterization of the situation, the spokesperson added.

Temple University had nearly 1,000 current GI Bill students with only three complaints in the last two years, while Bellevue University had over 1,500 GI Bill students with no complaints, according to the VA.

In December 2019, Temple University reached a settlement agreement with the attorney general of Pennsylvania regarding allegedly deceptive marketing practices.

“The false reporting, which was done intentionally and knowingly to boost the school’s rankings, elevated Fox Business School as the nation’s top Online MBA program for several consecutive years. The school used this ranking to attract prospective student applicants,” a press release stated.

“This behavior mislead students, alumni, employers and the public about the quality and value of these Temple programs,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro in the release. “It’s critical that students and alumni alike have confidence in the value of their degree or certification from Temple University or any other institution.”

The settlement included the establishment and funding of $250,000 in scholarships for Fox Business School students over the next ten years, the release added.

It is not immediately clear if the settlement with the State of Pennsylvania is related to the VA’s benefits decision.

Temple University officials say they will show VA they have taken corrective measures.

“Temple University and the Fox School of Business provide an excellent academic experience for all of its students, including veterans. We have just received this notice from the Department of Veterans Affairs and will respond as requested to demonstrate the substantial corrective actions that have been undertaken,” said Ray Betzner, associate vice president at Temple University, in an emailed statement to Military Times. “We look forward to continuing to provide an outstanding education to veterans. It is important to note that our current veteran students are not affected by this announcement.”

Bellevue University officials said they are reviewing the VA’s decision and reiterated the agency has “received zero complaints” from over “1,500 veteran-benefitted students.”

“We are contesting the AG’s complaint in the courts and believe that the evidence will show that no students were misled on the status of our nursing program accreditation,” said Cris Hay-Merchant, director of strategic communications at Bellevue, in an email to Military Times. “The nursing program received specialized accreditation from CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) effective October 2017 and the University has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since April 13, 1977.”

Lawmakers have taken notice.
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Old 03-10-2020, 07:34   #2
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When talking about "acidemia" and their thirst for money, I have always thought some of the hoopla associated with the myriad of "on-line" degrees programs were suspect.

NOT ALL, mind you.. but more than a few..

It goes way back,, I took several courses from the University of Pennsylvania, while AD in the 60t's. Math, Physics, & Statistics.

They were to easy. As soon as I had one complete, they would offer 3 more,, trying to get me hooked on buying credit hours and textbooks, which were as expensive as the classes.

There were non-degree ad hoc credits. Also, there was ZERO interaction with the school, just the mail-in of finished classwork and the return of new assignments.

The liberal left socialist driving the school bus advocate the LEFT at the same time plying for the millions good people and systems spend to get ahead.

Go raibh tú leathuair ar Neamh sula mbeadh a fhios ag an diabhal go bhfuil tú marbh

"May you be a half hour in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead"
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Old 03-10-2020, 09:45   #3
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My family is currently dealing with this crap as well. Not from any of the schools mentioned, we are dealing with The Art Institute of Colorado. I pieced out some of my GI Bill to my son for his Associates degree. So he was getting everything paid for (stipend and all for being a fulltime student) through the VA. However, on enrollment students are required to fill out paperwork for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms whether they need it or not. So after he completed his Associates program which was fully covered by my GI Bill portion, the school submitted him for a FAFSA loan and we started getting bills for a school loan. WTF?

The funding fraud ended up closing almost all of the Art Institute schools, only a few remain open.

The Department of Education did forgive a large portion of his FAFSA loan (which was never used because of my GI Bill). Yet he still has an open case to have the rest of the $$ wiped.

The Department of Justice charged the former owner of The Art Institutes, Education Management Corp, with $11 billion in federal funding fraud. Education Management Corp agreed to settle for $95 million to prevent further action against alleged consumer fraud and illegal recruiting tactics.

This is all complete garbage. We already have a huge student loan problem in this country. Its a broken and abused system in my opinion. But to take advantage of service members and their families really pisses me off. That and the fact that we are still waiting for the Department of Education to expunge the rest of the money he owes, when he didn't even take out a loan (and never used a portion of the FAFSA loan-the school took it all). Yet our government bailed out all the automotive debit to help boost our economy because of auto manufactures poor business practices. Pure horse crap! Thanks, it all makes sense if you don't think about it.
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