Numerous state attorney generals are demanding that the US Department of Veterans Affairs reinstate GI Bill benefits for veterans defrauded by for-profit colleges.
Attorney generals (AGs) in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington sent Secretary Bob McDonald a letter demanding restoration of GI Bill benefits. The justification is that for-profit colleges uses deceptive tactics to recruit veterans while the agency failed to verify education quality.
According to Illinois AG Lisa Madigan:
“Veterans earn educational benefits through their heroic service to our country… They should not return home and become targets of predatory, bogus colleges whose only interest in our veterans is to profit off them. It’s critical that our tax dollars allow student veterans to get a true education and the opportunities it provides.”
The problem with the schools was that they promised veterans jobs after graduation that never materialized. In fact, those colleges provided such low quality educations that employers do not accept nor would other colleges accept them for transfer credits. Recruiters used proven psychotherapy techniques to manipulate veterans into enrolling.
VA then paid benefits without verifying the claims made by such colleges. Veterans used up the benefits without the result they were promised.
GI BILL RESTORATION STRATEGY
The AGs are also suggesting VA adopt the following four strategies to protect veterans moving forward. According to Progress Illinois, those strategies are:
- Exercising current federal statutory authority to provide relief to these veterans. In cases where the VA has authorized the use of benefits contrary to its own governing statutes and regulations, federal law (38 U.S.C. §503) provides the VA discretion to offer equitable relief that would give back to the veterans full eligibility and entitlement to their benefits that they have lost from the schools’ conduct. Restoring these benefits would allow the veterans to obtain an education that will help them advance their careers.
- Triggering Automatic Reviews. The VA should establish that a review to exercise this discretion will automatically take place in any of the following cases: (1) when the U.S. Department of Education, a state regulatory agency, or a state attorney general takes a regulatory or enforcement action against a school; (2) when a court enters a judgment against a school, or (3) upon application by a veteran or a group of veterans alleging that an education program or college has utilized advertising, sales, or enrollment practices which are erroneous, deceptive, or misleading.
- Taking Proactive Steps To Provide Full and Accurate Information. The VA should take proactive steps to guarantee that veterans will be furnished full and accurate information about their education options to prevent them from enrolling in schools that employ aggressive and misleading marketing practices.
- Increasing Cooperation. The VA should continue and increase its support of efforts of state regulatory agencies and attorneys general in protecting veterans from misconduct.
So what do you think about the plan? Should veterans receive the benefit, or harm, of their own educated choice of attending for-profit colleges? Or, should VA reinstate the GI Bill benefits of veterans defrauded?
I used to be rather cynical about this, but VA does have a fiduciary duty to ensure colleges provide the quality education they promise before approving a veteran’s attendance. The past two presidential administrations were clearly asleep at the wheel while veterans were ripped off.
Should taxpayers bailout these veterans?