APSCU, May 16, 2012
Former Congressman Steve Gunderson, the president and chief executive officer of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) today testified before the U.S. House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. The committee held a hearing regarding the Executive Order signed by President Obama on April 27. Below are excerpts of Gunderson's testimony.
"I believe it is our moral imperative to ensure that our servicemembers and veterans receive the education they deserve with the benefits they earned at every institution of higher education," Gunderson wrote in his written testimony to the committee.
Gunderson described the collaborative steps APSCU has taken to improve the delivery of education to our nation's veterans, including signing a letter with veteran service organizations in January 2012 and continuing substantive conversations with leaders on Capitol Hill and the Administration. He also explained the regulation framework that is already in place.
"Solutions to many of the other areas of concern raised by the President, and even by Capitol Hill, can be addressed through the existing oversight framework already in place. In fact, private sector colleges and universities are one of the most highly-regulated groups in the country, and the so-called 'triad' - a reinforcing network of federal, state and non-governmental accrediting bodies - provides an enhanced level of oversight to ensure minimum levels of program and institutional quality are achieved."
Gunderson also expressed disappointment with the White House for circumventing ongoing discussions with the Congress, and expressed the need that all sectors of higher education deserve a seat at the table to discuss the implementation of this Executive Order.
"Since the enactment of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, 152,000 veterans, spouses, and dependents have chosen to attend private sector colleges and universities using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Since the benefits began in 2009, time-and-time again veteran-students have cited the reason for their decision to attend public two-year institutions and private sector colleges and universities is the simple fact that our schools have the greatest capacity to meet their educational needs. As non-traditional students, veterans in particular value many of the institutional qualities, which are inherently ingrained into the framework of private sector colleges and universities, such as geographic proximity to home or work, institutional emphasis on the adult-learner, flexible class schedules, and campuses in other states."
"Ultimately the success or failure of the Executive Order is in the hands of the Administration. A promise was made to me that the White House would work directly with APSCU and others in the higher education sector to address concerns about the complaint process. I will hold them to that and I hope you will also. It is imperative that we seize this opportunity to work together to achieve the outcome we all seek. But for that to happen, we must summon a greater spirit of positive collaboration among all stakeholders. APSCU is prepared to do the hard work that lies ahead and welcomes anyone, at anytime, to join us in continuing the evolution of this conversation out of the realm of political rhetoric and into thoughtful policy discussions with the end goal of arming our veterans with the resources they need to make the best academic decisions."