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VA Says "Predatory" Colleges Can Accept GI Bill Students

The GI Bill, originally created to provide benefits for returning World War II soldiers, is used by veterans to help pay for college, graduate school or training programs. (Adobe Stock)
The GI Bill, originally created to provide benefits for returning World War II soldiers, is used by veterans to help pay for college, graduate school or training programs. (Adobe Stock)
July 13, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A handful of colleges with a history of misleading advertising can continue recruiting GI Bill students in an apparent reversal of course by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The move comes just a few months after the agency warned the schools they would be cut off from access to GI Bill benefits if they continued to use false data and predatory tactics aimed at luring people to enroll.

The agency now says the schools have reformed their practices.

Tanya Ang, vice president of the advocacy group Veterans Education Success, says there's little evidence the schools -- including the University of Phoenix -- have changed their ways.

"We have just heard recently from whistleblowers that some of the schools have not curbed their actions, but have instead ramped up their marketing and advertising during the current national crisis with COVID," she states.

Other schools that received warnings include American Intercontinental University, Bellevue University, Colorado Technical University and Temple University. Bellevue and Temple are nonprofit schools.

Federal law prohibits the VA from paying out GI Bill funds to schools that engage in deceptive advertising and enrollment practices.

The VA's warnings were triggered by a slew of legal actions, including a $200 million settlement by the University of Phoenix with the Federal Trade Commission.

Ang says these schools often aggressively pursue students, overstate their job prospects, and in some cases, aren't even certified for the programs they purport to teach.

"When you're a first generation student, and then all of a sudden the school is massively targeting -- calling you 10 to 15 times a day, sending you emails -- these students are like, 'Oh my gosh, this school really wants me to attend here,'" she states.

Last year, then-state Attorney General Andy Beshear reached a multi-million dollar settlement for more than 2,000 Kentucky students over deceptive practices by the for-profit education companies Career Education Corporation and Sullivan University.

Ang says lawmakers have been active in their support of more oversight of for-profit colleges.

"We have worked really hard with both sides of the aisle to find a bipartisan bill that would protect military-connected students from being targeted and preyed upon by these colleges," she stresses.

According to 2018 data from the VA, more than 10,000 veteran students in Kentucky and their family members are using GI Bill benefits to further their education.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY