In testimony on GI Bill modernization before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday, William Hubbard, vice president for Veterans & Military Policy at Veterans Education Success, an advocacy group focused on advancing higher education success for service members, veterans and their families, said the House of Prayer’s abuse is proof that more oversight of the GI Bill program is needed.
“Irrespective of VA’s efforts to modernize and improve the administration of education benefits, student veterans continue to face the threat of predatory actors in higher education, and in many cases with alarming consequences. Recently, the FBI conducted multiple raids across the country on a system of GI Bill-approved schools that are affiliated under the banner of ‘House of Prayer,’” Hubbard noted in his testimony.
“These raids demonstrated the importance of remaining vigilant against harmful conduct, and of establishing much-needed minimum quality standards. In addition, over the course of the pandemic, the landscape of higher education has become dramatically less predictable; keeping a watchful eye for unscrupulous behaviors and low-quality programs is critical,” he added.
It was noted that state approving agencies, or SAAs, which determine if educational institutions meet the requirements for GI Bill money, began cracking down on the House of Prayer earlier this year after Veterans Education Success complained of abuses.
“At present, no effective system exists to proactively prevent bad programs from being approved to begin with. The statutes governing program approval are seriously outdated, still referencing classes taught ‘by radio,’ and they continue to allow a low standard of entry. We strongly believe that both veterans and taxpayers are entitled to a reasonable return on investment for the GI Bill,” Hubbard told the subcommittee on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of programs that cause serious harm to the veterans they intend to train and educate. The consequences of veterans getting stuck at bad programs includes: unrecoverable wasted time, burdensome debts, and personal reputational damage,” he added.
“Despite showing poor results, many of these programs and schools continue to rake in millions of taxpayer dollars through the recruitment and exploitation of veterans and the abuse of their education benefits.”
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