By Debbie Gregory.
The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs are addressing widespread concern about the quality of education at for-profit colleges and unaccredited institutions. These schools have siphoned off billions of dollars in taxpayer-supported benefits for veterans and military personnel.
The University of Phoenix, the country’s largest benefactor of GI Bill funds, is under federal investigation for possible deceptive or unfair business practices, its parent company, Apollo Education Group, announced last month.
The investigation seeks to determine if “certain unnamed persons, partnerships, corporations, or others have engaged or are engaging in deceptive or unfair acts or practices in or affecting commerce in the advertising, marketing, or sale of secondary or postsecondary educational products or services or educational accreditation products or services.”
There are allegations that the University of Phoenix has paid the military for exclusive access to bases, held recruitment events disguised as résumé workshops, and included military insignias without the required permission on custom-engraved “challenge coins” handed out by recruiters.
Apollo group is the latest in a string of for-profit colleges being investigated by federal authorities for alleged impropriety. On May 12, the SEC announced fraud charges against ITT Tech and two of its top executives for allegedly lying to investors in an alleged scheme to cover up losses from student loans. Last April, the Department of Education levied $30 million in fines against Corinthian Colleges for inflating job placement numbers at its subsidiary colleges after an investigation for allegations of fraud. Corinthian shut down all 28 of its locations including Heald College, Everest College and WyoTech, leaving hundreds of veterans in the lurch after the parent company declared bankruptcy.
Since 2009, the school has reaped more than $1.2 billion in GI Bill money. Last year alone, it received $345 million to educate Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, along with $20 million in tuition assistance from the Pentagon.
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U of Phoenix Under Investigation: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory