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Trump Administration Wants to Legalize Payoffs to VA Officials by For-Profit Schools

for profit rip off

By Debbie Gregory.

Before taking office last year, Donald Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle multiple lawsuits claiming fraud at Trump University, his for-profit real estate school.

Last month, the Trump administration announced that Julian Schmoke Jr., a former official at for-profit DeVry University, would be in charge of a Department of Education unit that polices colleges for student aid fraud. Last year, DeVry paid $100 million to settle federal claims it misled students, including veteran education programs.

And now, the Trump administration is seeking to waive an anti-corruption law that has been on the books for 50 years. The law prevents officials who administer the GI Bill from accepting money from for-profit schools backed by taxpayer subsidies.

The waiver would allow employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs to receive “wages, salary, dividends, profits, gratuities” and services from for-profit schools that receive GI Bill funds.

Veterans’ advocates, who have battled for veteran education rights against predatory colleges, were blindsided.

“Bizarre and very likely illegal,” said Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success.  The non-profit group works to protect and defend the integrity and promise of the GI Bill and other federal education programs for veterans and servicemembers.

“There are federal laws – including federal criminal laws – that prohibit federal employees from engaging in this exact behavior,” she said.

The rule change could create conflict of interest where VA officials, who are charged with ensuring GI Bill funds are well spent, could accept payments from colleges facing scrutiny.

VA employees could also own or run a for-profit college that profits from the GI Bill.

The VA angered many veteran advocates by allowing for-profit Ashford University to continue receiving GI Bill money, this in spite of the fact that California and Iowa regulators revoked its certification from the program.

Ashford circumvented the revocation by moving its official address from Iowa to Arizona.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: GI Bill is NOT for Schools: By Debbie Gregory

GI Bill for VetsThe Post-9/11 GI Bill is the most current and most generous continuation of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, originally enacted by the government in 1944. Since its 2009 inception, more than 1 million Veterans have used the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend colleges, universities and trade schools. However, there has been growing concern that Veterans are not getting the education they deserve from the benefit they have earned.

But this time, it’s not the American public questioning the federal government about an insufficient offering. This time, it’s the federal government questioning the schools that are receiving the funds from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The government wants to make sure that the schools are providing sufficient services to Veterans.

A July 30, 2014 report from the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on the GI Bill and for-profit schools shows just how seriously Washington is looking at Veteran education benefits. The main area of concern is the predatory behavior of some for-profit institutions, the lack of worth of some schools’ degree programs, and the increasing enrollment rates of GI Bill students that some of these schools are still managing to receive.

The study found that in the 2012-2013 academic year, eight of the top ten recipient schools were large, publicly traded companies that operate for-profit schools. These eight companies received a total of $2.9 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition money since the program began, including $975 million in 2012-2013, which accounted for 23% of the total GI Bill tuition money spent that year. Since 2009, the Veteran enrollment rate at private for-profit institutions has jumped from 23% to 31%, while Veteran enrollment at public and other not-for-profit schools has dropped from 62% to 50% over the same period.

There are many for-profit schools that go to great lengths to provide Veterans with a quality education. But there are plenty of GI Bill students who can’t finish their degree program within the time allotted by the GI Bill, despite being told by their admissions officer that their military experience would count as credit, allowing them to finish in time. There are also horror stories about the Veterans who have used their GI Bill to complete degree programs, only to find that employers and graduate schools won’t recognize a degree from that school, resulting in a worthless degree that was a waste of time, energy and GI Bill benefits.

Congressional legislators are hoping to eliminate situations like these. Again, not all for-profit schools are bad. But proactive measures are being put into place to ensure that the GI Bill benefits earned through military service are being put to use to benefit the Veteran, not the school.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: GI Bill is NOT for Schools: By Debbie Gregory