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VA scrambles as education pact deadline looms

06/13/2012

Marine Corps Times - June 13, 2012 - by Cid Standifer

The Veterans Affairs Department is still unsure about the ramifications of President Obama’s “Principles of Excellence,” VA’s director of education services told Congress on Wednesday, even though the June 30 deadline for schools to sign on is fast approaching.

The Principles of Excellence — a series of measures designed to ban deceptive marketing and recruiting by schools, demand “high-quality academic and student support services,” and require schools to disclose cost and quality information to prospective students — were included in an executive order that Obama signed in April. Schools are required to state whether they intend to follow the principles by the end of this month.

However, some of VA’s attempts to reach schools have fallen flat. VA scheduled two webinars on the subject that schools were invited to attend, but each session exceeded its maximum capacity of 1,000 viewers, locking out some participants. Another webinar was scheduled for June 15, and VA assured would-be participants via email that a video of the first webinars would be available on Military OneSource within two weeks, or by June 22.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., noted this would leave little time for schools to review the principles before making a decision, and pointed out that the deadline is closing in.

Curtis Coy, VA’s deputy undersecretary for economic opportunity, said the department has not yet considered pushing back the June 30 deadline, but acknowledged that it was an option. Robert Worley, VA’s director of education services, pointed out that schools won’t be asked to implement the Principles of Excellence until the end of the 2012-13 school year.

When Burr asked what would happen to schools that failed to sign the Principles of Excellence, Worley admitted that some of the details are still fuzzy.

“What we’re asking the schools to do is to sign — we’re encouraging them to respond with their intent to comply with the Principles of Excellence,” he said. “We will not fully know the ramifications … for some time.”

Worley has previously said that signing the Principles of Excellence will not be a prerequisite for schools to qualify for GI Bill funding or Yellow Ribbon scholarship money.