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VA Seeks Broad Waiver of Rule Barring Payments From For-Profit Colleges

September 15, 2017
 
 

The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to grant employees a waiver of a rule barring receipt of salary or other benefits from for-profit colleges.

The proposed regulation was published in the federal register Thursday and would take effect next month without "adverse comment."

A recent VA inspector general report found that two employees had violated the rule by working as adjunct instructors at for-profit colleges receiving VA benefits. The report recommended issuing waivers where no specific conflict of interest exists.

The proposal goes further, granting a waiver to all VA employees as long as they abide by certain other federal conflict-of-interest laws. Asked for comment, the VA's press office referred to language in the agency's notice of intent stating that the "statute has illogical and unintended consequences."

Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success, a group that focuses on fraud and abuse of student veterans, called the proposal "crazy." She argued it would allow employees at VA, which acts as a regulator of institutions receiving veterans' education benefits, to hold stock or receive gifts from those entities.

Will Hubbard, vice president of government affairs at Student Veterans of America, said he wasn't sure the proposal had a nefarious intent. But he said the timing was interesting considering recent changes the Department of Education has made to rules protecting students and certain personnel decisions at the department.

"We remain very committed to ensuring that student veterans continue to be the top priority of the Department of Veterans Affairs," he said.

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