Democratic Senators Urge Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the Federal Trade Commission to take action to protect and defend the education benefits of servicemembers and student veterans
Nov 21 2017
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves, joined his colleagues in conducting oversight on the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect and defend the education benefits of servicemembers and student veterans from unscrupulous for-profit institutions.
On November 9, the VA notified Ashford University that it is not in compliance with GI Bill eligibility requirements related to state approval and has 60 days to come into compliance or lose eligibility. Today, Senator Carper joined Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and seven Senate Democrats in urging DOD Secretary James Mattis and VA Secretary David Shulkin to take steps to protect servicemembers using Tuition Assistance (TA) benefits and veterans using GI Bill benefits at Ashford in light of the company’s impending loss of VA Post-9/11 GI Bill approval.
“We are pleased with the VA’s actions to enforce the law and regulations. But the fact remains that Ashford’s noncompliance threatens to interrupt the education of service members using TA benefits and some 9,000 veterans using GI Bill education benefits to attend the institution,” the Senators wrote. “We believe additional steps must be taken to adequately protect veterans [and service members] now that it is likely Ashford will lose GI Bill eligibility.”
In the letters to Secretary Mattis and Secretary Shulkin, Senators urged DOD and VA to immediately notify, through direct email and mail, all of the TA students and the more than 9,000 GI Bill students currently enrolled at Ashford of the impending disruption of benefits and provide these students with resources about their rights and high quality transfer options. They also urged DOD and VA to prohibit new service members using TA benefits and veterans using GI Bill benefits from enrolling at Ashford until further notice.
Yesterday, Senator Carper joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and seven Senate Democrats in urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce stricter penalties against Victory Media, Inc. after the company misled servicemembers and veterans by failing to disclose that educational institutions had paid to be included in publications falsely marketed as real reviews.
Victory Media reaches servicemembers through its magazines G.I. Jobs, the Guide to Military Friendly Schools, and Military Spouse, its websites, including militaryfriendly.com, militaryspouse.com, and gijobs.com, and on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. A Veterans Education Success report found that Victory Media knowingly perpetuated deceptive and fraudulent marketing practices that unfairly targeted veterans and servicemembers by enticing them with post-secondary education opportunities.
“Victory Media…has used its websites like ‘Militaryfriendly.com’ and its publications like GI Jobs magazine to target and prey on military servicemembers and veterans looking to utilize their hard-earned and well-deserved GI benefits to advance their education and careers after the military,” the Senators wrote. “We appreciate the Commission’s efforts to take swift legal action against this unscrupulous behavior, but believe FTC must take stronger steps to adequately deter future offenses by Victory Media and other bad actors.”
In the letter to Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen, Senators called on the FTC to seek compensation for veterans harmed by Victory Media’s deceptive marketing tactics, particularly those who were directed to institutions under investigation for fraudulent and predatory activity.
The letter to Chairwoman Ohlhausen can be found here.