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On Sept. 14, the Department of Veterans Affairs quietly announced that it will waive a common-sense ethics law for all of its employees. For over 50 years, the VA has prohibited employees from receiving payments or having other financial relationships with for-profit colleges that receive GI Bill funds. In announcing plans to scrap this ethics law, the agency falsely claimed that the ban was an outdated and redundant provision because it was enacted “before there were conflict-of-interest laws applicable to all Executive Branch employees.”
An ethics law that prohibits Department of Veterans Affairs employees from receiving money or owning a stake in for-profit colleges that rake in millions in G.I. Bill tuition has “illogical and unintended consequences,” according to VA, which is pushing to suspend the 50-year-old statute.
U.S. military commanders allowed representatives of the University of Phoenix to erect banners advertising the for-profit college on one of America’s largest military bases and permitted them to place promotional materials in high-traffic areas on the post.
Last year, the Department of Defense took a bold move against the University of Phoenix, placing the nation’s largest for-profit college on probation and putting tuition assistance for active-duty students at the school at risk. This gave the rest of the for-profit education industry notice that the DoD was not going to stand idly and let those institutions exploit veterans.
Modern veterans have an incredible tool to help them succeed, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which offers up to 36 months of education benefits. Many vets who attend college nearly free of charge envision that, upon graduation, they will be able to able secure well-paying jobs in the field of their studies. However, for many, this is not the case. Veterans are being aggressively recruited by “enrollment counselors” employed by for-profit universities who want a slice of the G.I. Bill pie, but are not all upfront that they fail to meet accreditation requirements, or offer degree programs not recognized by employers.