ABOUT VETERANS EDUCATION SUCCESS

We are bipartisan policy experts, academic researchers, lawyers and advocates. We are veterans and non-veterans dedicated to bridging the military-civilian divide to ensure career and education success for military families. We provide:

  • Free Help for Veterans and Military-Connected Students: Free legal services, advice, and college and career counseling for the GI Bill.

  • Research & Reports: Non-partisan research on issues of concern to student veterans, including student outcomes and federal oversight.

  • Bipartisan Policy Advocacy: Non-partisan assistance policymakers to improve higher education quality and veterans’ success and to protect the integrity of the GI Bill.

  • Civic Engagement:  Helping veterans participate in their democracy by engaging government officials and the media.

  • Legal Advocacy: Free legal assistance for military-connected students and whistleblowers, and legal work building cases to stop college consumer fraud.

Our President Carrie Wofford testifies at the U.S. House of Representatives Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, October 2016

Rep. Mark Takano, Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, meets with Veterans Education Success and Student Veterans from Community Colleges, June 2016

OUR VICTORIES

For nearly a decade, we’ve been fighting for the rights of student veterans, service members, and their families. We’re grateful to  policymakers for robust bipartisan support – including many unanimous votes of Congress – for our policy proposals.  We couldn’t do it without our Veterans & Military Organization allies and our friends in Congress. Some of our policy successes include:

  • We Closed the 90/10 Loophole!!  It took a decade of our advocacy, speaking out, and mobilizing our allies and individual defrauded veterans, but we finally closed the 90/10 loophole!  The House of Representatives approved the loophole closure on March 10, 2021, following the Senate’s bipartisan agreement on March 6, 2021, to close the loophole while delaying its implementation.

  • GI Bill Student Protections: We work hard to protect GI Bill students. We’re grateful for Congress’ unanimous passage of our ideas in a major new law in 2020 to ensure key GI Bill student protections and better college oversight. It requires risk-based reviews of colleges and stops VA approval of fake law schools and any college cut off by the Education Department or an accreditor. It stops predatory college recruiting including by the third-party “lead generator” websites colleges contract with. It requires schools, not veterans, to repay VA’s tuition overpayments and prevents overpayments from happening by requiring schools to re-verify veterans’ enrollment after the add/drop period and veterans to re-verify enrollment each month. It requires schools to give accurate information to veterans. It also ensures veterans get their GI Bill restored if their school closes or is disapproved (an important expansion of our 2017 law to restore GI Bill for veterans at ITT Tech, Corinthian, and some other shuttered colleges). And it extends in-state tuition for all veterans, regardless of state residency.

  • COVID Relief:  When Coronavirus hit in Spring 2020, we worked with Congress to quickly pass 2 laws to give VA-supported students the same rights as other students, including no change to their GI Bill enrollment and housing allowance even as colleges moved classes online, and to keep students’ work study funds flowing. We also worked to ensure COVID student relief from the Education Department included student veterans.

  • Exposing and Stopping College Fraud: We frequently expose college fraud through our research papers and investigative work. We also are proud to play a role behind the scenes helping law enforcement crack down on illegal fraud by bad actor colleges. Our work exposing deceptive recruiting helped the Federal Trade Commission obtain – for students – nearly $200 million from the University of Phoenix and $100 million from DeVry, and led the Commission to shut down several scam websites targeting veterans and a pay-to-play company touting “military-friendly schools.” We actively support state Attorneys General with their crackdowns on illegal school practices. If you’re a whistleblower with information to share, contact us.  We have a great track record of protecting whistleblowers and helping them expose the truth.

  • Disabled Veterans’ Legal Rights: In 2019, we forced the US Education Department to follow the law and grant 100% disabled veterans’ student loan forgiveness. Our Freedom of Information Act request exposed the truth that the Education Department was denying 100% disabled veterans their legal rights and had wrongly put half of them in default. We mobilized public pressure on the Education Department, including generating negative media stories, veterans’ letters, a letter from 51 state Attorneys General, bipartisan Congressional pressure, and the threat of a lawsuit. And we won!

  • Ethics Law for VA Employees: When VA proposed to waive federal ethics rules to allow VA employees to receive gifts, dividends, stock, salaries, and more from for-profit colleges, we organized a massive pushback by bipartisan national ethics leaders, veterans organizations, consumer and education organizations, and the VA employees union. We forced VA to back down.  Bipartisan members of Congress then worked with us on a bipartisan – and unanimous – new law to fix the problem.

  • Career Ready Student Veterans Act of 2016: When we published a groundbreaking report, “The GI Bill Pays for Degrees That Do Not Lead to a Job,” bipartisan members of Congress paid attention and passed a law – with unanimous votes in both the House and Senate – to stop colleges that leave veterans ineligible to get a license to work in the promised field.

  • Quality Improvements for Defense Department Tuition Assistance: We thank Congress for listening to our quality concerns and enacting quality requirements for colleges that participate in the Defense Department Tuition Assistance. We also thank DOD for working with us on careful rules for schools.

  • 2012 Executive Order: Principles of Excellence: We are proud to have proposed, helped draft, and built support for a 2012 Executive Order establishing principles of excellence for colleges serving veterans and military-connected students.

  • Helping 5,000 Veterans Get Their Legal Rights – And Speak Out: We have provided free legal services and college counseling to 5,000 veterans and service members – and counting!  In 2020 alone we helped ~450 veterans get their legal rights. We also help them speak up so policymakers understand the reality on the ground. We’ve brought nearly 100 student veterans to Washington where we’ve helped them testify before Congress and the Education Department, speak on our Congressional panels, meet with VA and news reporters, and more. We also help them meet with their elected officials in their home district offices.  We’re helping policymakers understand student veterans and change the law to help them.  Many Members of Congress have said our meetings really opened their eyes – and it’s helped change how they vote.

  • Stopping Bad Legislation: We often work behind the scenes to stop bad bills. We mobilized a major effort to kill a 2018 bill by the House Education Committee that would have removed student protections and college quality requirements while pushing federal student aid towards law-breaking colleges, and we led the effort to kill a 2016 bill that would have allowed predatory colleges’ unfettered access to military bases.

OUR TEAM

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Carrie Wofford

President

Robert F. Norton

Senior Advisor

Will Hubbard

Interim Chief Policy Officer

Walter Ochinko

Research Director

James Haynes

Federal Policy Manager

Allison Muth

Attorney

Jennifer Esparza

Law Fellow

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Daniel Carey

Director

Bethany Little

Treasurer and Director

Dan Smith

Vice President and Director

Tom Tarantino

Secretary and Director

Carrie Wofford

President and Director

OUR SUPPORTERS

Veterans Education Success, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is able to serve the military and veteran community thanks to charitable contributions from our generous partners. Here are some of our supporters:

OUR HISTORY

Veterans Education Success works with partner veterans and military service organizations to educate federal and state policymakers to ensure the success of military-connected students using the GI Bill and other federal educational benefits, and to weed out college waste, fraud, and abuse.

Veterans Education Success was formed after a two-year U.S. Senate Committee investigation into for-profit colleges revealed a scam: certain predatory for-profit colleges were targeting veterans and service-members with aggressive, deceptive, and sometimes fraudulent recruiting in order to get access to the lucrative GI Bill and Defense Department Tuition Assistance.

Veterans were coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and getting misled into signing up for these very low-quality schools, where graduates often cannot get the jobs they were promised. Vets were thereby losing their one shot at the GI Bill and the skills they needed to enter the civilian workforce and provide a better future for themselves and their families. The idea that education companies were seeking to trick veterans out of their hard-earned GI Bill is particularly galling because the GI Bill is the main source of America’s thanks to veterans and servicemembers who have served and sacrificed the most for America.

In 2011, veterans advocates banded together with Senate staff to propose and demand a Presidential Executive Order and legislation to force schools to disclose the true facts about what they offered and to arm federal agencies with the tools necessary to investigate and prevent deception, fraud, and abuse. That effort led to successful enactment of:

  • Executive Order 13607, “Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members,” issued April 27, 2012; and
  • Public Law 112-249, “An Act to amend Title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop a comprehensive policy to improve outreach and transparency to veterans and members of the Armed Forces through the provision of information on institutions of higher learning, and for other purposes” enacted on January 10, 2013.

In February 2013, shortly after the federal legislation was signed into law, Veterans Education Success was founded – in collaboration with the nation’s major veterans’ leaders – to ensure effective implementation of the Executive Order and legislation, and to find new ways to stop scams and help veterans find the high-quality colleges they deserve.

WHAT VETERANS DAY MEANS TO US

At Veterans Education Success we value bridging the military-civilian divide everyday in our work and honor those we served in America’s Armed Forces. In 2019, we asked the veterans on our team to explain what Veterans Day means to them. Here’s what they had to say.

In 2020, we asked team members to identify one veteran who impacted their life and explain how. The stories that followed were a testament to the power and influence veterans have in our lives—influence that lasts generations.

OUR AWARDS