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VA Drops Allegations Against Temple, Phoenix and Others

July 6, 2020

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday backed off on its threat to bar students from being able to use the GI Bill to attend Temple University, the University of Phoenix and three other institutions, saying they had resolved allegations that their recruiting practices were misleading.

Some veterans' advocates said they were “flabbergasted” and complained the universities are getting off easy. But the University of Phoenix saw it as vindication that the university is now in compliance with federal regulations.

The VA had threatened in March that it would stop approving new GI Bill enrollments at the two universities, as well Bellevue University and the Career Education Corporation’s Colorado Technical University and American InterContinental University, unless they took corrective action.

In the University of Phoenix case, for instance, the Federal Trade Commission had accused the institution of featuring companies like Microsoft, Twitter, Adobe and Yahoo! in its advertisements, giving the false impression that Phoenix worked with those companies to create job opportunities for its students. The university in December agreed to pay the FTC to settle.

In a letter to the university, the VA said it will continue to allow students to go there using the GI Bill, citing a number of factors, including the fact that the institution’s entire leadership and marketing teams have been replaced since the ads ran.

In a statement, the University of Phoenix said it “has always respected that student veterans have earned the right to choose the institutions that best fit their needs, and this news vindicates that principle.”

Temple agreed to a settlement in December with Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania's attorney general, to establish $250,000 in scholarships for Fox Business School students over the next decade. Shapiro had filed a complaint against Temple for misrepresenting data to college rankings organizations like U.S. News & World Report. The VA in a letter to Temple said it would allow the GI Bill to continue being used at the university, noting Temple has spent $18 million to ensure the data will be accurate. Temple said in a statement it is “extremely pleased” with the VA’s decision.

But Tanya Ang, vice president of the advocacy group Veterans Education Success, called the decision “disappointing at best, but not surprising given how much money and political power these schools have. Yet again, those who have served our country are denied the protections they deserve.”

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Kery Murakami

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