“Veterans are targeted by predatory schools,” said Jennifer Esparza, the legal affairs director for Washington, D.C.-based bipartisan nonprofit Veterans Education Success, which referred more than 100 whistleblowers to Bonta for the recent trial.

Esparza was also a student at Ashford University from 2010 to 2013.

“My experience as a student really tracks with a lot of the complaints that we received,” she said.

Poor quality of education, misinformation about financial opportunities, and intimidation tactics added to the strain of a hands-off approach to education for Esparza and more than 100 other students who filed complaints with the veteran education advocacy group.

“These colleges target minorities and low-income people,” Esparza said. “Then they bait-and-switch them. It’s appalling.”

“For-profit schools advertise as veteran-friendly,” Esparza said. “Some of their programs aren’t accredited and students may not understand that. They have the ability to really reel these students in under the pretense that they are more flexible than a public school, which is often not the case.”

Esparza and Lee capitalized on the GI Bill, a law dating back to World War II that provides financial benefits to studious veterans and active-duty members.

“Ashford is unfriendly and unhelpful to military veterans, especially those experiencing injuries,” Army veteran and former student Jenica King testified to the U.S. Department of Education last week during a public hearing for rulemaking.

“The student believes the school has their best interest at heart,” Esparza said. “But they are wrong.”

Read the full story in Phoenix New Times here.