October 21, 2019

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Carrie Wofford, President | carrie@vetsedsuccess.org (202) 422-6338

Veterans Education Success Releases Two New Reports Documenting Early Warning Signs at Troubled Schools Missed by VA and States, and VA’s Failure to Follow Legal Authority to Protect Veterans

The reports document clear early warning signs and specific case studies as well as VA’s failure to enforce federal law, and offer policy fixes for both VA and Congress to address

Washington, D.C.Veterans Education Success released two new reports:

  • “VA and States Should Act on Early Warning Signs When Risks to GI Bill Beneficiaries and Taxpayers Emerge at Participating Schools” that can be found here, and; 
  • “VA Still Not Enforcing 1974 Ban on Schools that Engage in Deceptive Advertising and Recruiting” that can be found here

This first report, “VA and States Should Act on Early Warning Signs When Risks to GI Bill Beneficiaries and Taxpayers Emerge at Participating Schools,” comes after a number of school chains that enrolled veterans closed since 2012. These closures were presaged by clear indicators, or early warning signs, from federal and state government actors. The report documents the details of each early warning sign at both closed and troubled schools, and suggests VA and the State Approving Agencies that contract with VA could more closely monitor these early warning signs from federal and state government partners to anticipate problems at schools.

It’s unconscionable that VA and some SAAs ignored clear signs of trouble and imminent school closure that could have saved veterans and taxpayers millions, especially since the VA Inspector General believes VA will waste $2.3B in taxpayer dollars over the next five years at schools that shouldn’t be approved,” said Carrie Wofford, President at Veterans Education Success. “This report sheds light on missed opportunities that we urge VA not to ignore in the future.

The report provides a series of case studies which suggested that few SAAs acted proactively to protect veterans and that in many cases VA took no action to support those SAAs that did so. In some cases, VA interprets federal statute as limiting its own and SAAs’ ability to act thus preventing them from acting on the early warning signs. 

The second report is titled, “VA Still Not Enforcing 1974 Ban on Schools that Engage in Deceptive Advertising and Recruiting.”  This short Issue Brief examines the history of Congress’ 1974 ban on schools that rely on misleading advertising and recruiting to enroll veterans and eligible family members. The report documents numerous law enforcement settlements with school chains over deceptive advertising and recruiting since enactment of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and documents VA’s failure to adhere to the ban passed forty-five years ago.

That VA has not invoked their authority to ban schools that engage in deceptive marketing for almost 50 years is a missed opportunity to do what is right for military-connected students in higher education,” said Tanya Ang, Vice President at Veterans Education Success. “We urge VA and their Office of General Counsel to review the relevant statute and act now to protect veterans from predatory schools.

Both contributions were researched and written by Walter Ochinko, Research Director at Veterans Education Success. These reports are part of a series by Veterans Education Success on SAA and VA oversight of GI Bill participating schools. A second report examines inconsistencies and ambiguities in SAA’s and VA’s statutory approval and disapproval authorities and a third report examines how VA’s overemphasis on payment accuracy is impeding more effective SAA oversight of schools.

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About Veterans Education Success

Veterans Education Success is a veteran advocacy organization whose mission is to advance higher education success for veterans, service members, and military families, and to protect the integrity and promise of the GI Bill and other federal education programs. The organization offers free legal services, advice, and college and career counseling to servicemembers, veterans, their survivors, and families using federal education benefits – and helps them participate in their democracy by engaging with policymakers. Veterans Education Success also provides policy expertise to federal and state policymakers, and conducts non-partisan research on issues of concern to student veterans, including student outcomes and debt levels. Additional information is available at www.vetsedsuccess.org.