WASHINGTON (AP) – The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving to bar new GI Bill students from enrolling at five universities, citing “advertising, sales or enrollment practices that are erroneous, deceptive or misleading.â€
The schools were identified as the University of Phoenix, Colorado Technical University, American InterContinental University, Bellevue University and Temple University.
The department said in a statement that the schools would be suspended from the GI Bill program, which provides student financial aid to veterans, unless corrective action is taken within 60 days.
It made clear that current students would not be affected by the action. But it also noted that state agencies responsible for approving programs might choose to take their own actions based on the VA’s decision and that could affect current students as well as new ones. â€œVA will take appropriate actions to keep beneficiaries informed of any developments that would impact them,â€ the agency said.
Schools pledged quick responses.
“We have just received this notice from the Department of Veterans Affairs and will respond as requested to demonstrate the substantial corrective actions that have been undertaken,” Temple said in a statement.
And the University of Phoenix said, â€œWe will respond expeditiously to the VAâ€™s teams that are handling the review process and we are working to assure no disruptions to existing or new students, now or in the future.â€
The other schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The VA said there are a total of 16,615 GI Bill students at the five campuses.
The breakdown, according to the agency: 11,159 at the University of Phoenix; 2,992 at Colorado Tech; 1,202 at American International University; 483 at Temple; and 779 at Bellevue.
â€œOur aim in taking this action is to protect Veterans and their dependentsâ€™ GI Bill benefits and comply with the law,â€ said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. â€œThe department is committed to helping beneficiaries avoid any negative consequences that may result.â€
The agency said it reached its determination after reviewing findings by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general offices.
Carrie Wofford, president of the advocacy group Veterans Education Success, said in a statement that the VA’s decision was â€œmore than justifiedâ€ and sends the message that “the federal government and taxpayers will no longer tolerate schools that seek to defraud veterans and other military-connected students out of their hard-earned federal education benefits.â€