The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday it is targeting GI Bill enrollment for five institutes of higher education, citing what the government said were their “erroneous” marketing practices toward recipients of veterans education funding.
The VA found “sufficient evidence” that Temple University, the University of Phoenix, Bellevue University, Colorado Technical University and American InterContinental University used advertising or sales tactics that were “erroneous, deceptive or misleading by actual statement, omission or intimidation against GI Bill beneficiaries.”
Unless the universities take “corrective action,” the VA will suspend enrollment of new GI Bill beneficiaries in 60 days.
“Our aim in taking this action is to protect veterans and their dependents’ GI Bill benefits and comply with the law,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “The department is committed to helping beneficiaries avoid any negative consequences that may result.”
Current GI Bill recipients at these universities will be allowed to continue their studies, so long as their enrollment has remained continuous. The action from the VA will primarily affect new GI Bill recipients hoping to enroll in these institutions, either in residence or online.
According to the Military Times, over 15,000 GI Bill students attended the University of Phoenix online alone last year, with an additional 9,000 students receiving benefits at campuses across the United States. Nationwide, the online school generated 600 complaints from GI Bill recipients, mostly regarding financial aid or the status of student loans.
Temple University has about 1,000 GI Bill students enrolled on campus. The school recently settled a lawsuit in December 2019 after accusations of alleged false advertising came to light.
According to a press release following the lawsuit, Temple was accused of “false reporting” from its Fox Business School to the U.S. News and World Report, in an attempt to rise to a top ranking for its online MBA program.
“The false reporting, which was done intentionally and knowingly to boost the school’s rankings, elevated Fox Business School as the nation’s top Online MBA program for several consecutive years,” the press release said. “The school used this ranking to attract prospective student applicants.”
Representatives for the University of Phoenix say the issues highlighted by the VA will be addressed before the 60-day deadline.
“It’s important to note that no students or benefits are currently impacted by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ recent announcement,” Andrea Smiley, University of Phoenix vice president said. “We will respond expeditiously to the VA’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.”
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