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San Diego Veterans Advocates Demand Answers From University Of Phoenix

The University of Phoenix could bar veterans from enrolling in at least one program at its San Diego campus. One veterans group wants answers or it will drop the school from its council.

Statement from Apollo Education Group

“The auditors in California have given University of Phoenix positive marks in the audit—especially on how we serve veteran students – with the sole exception being the 85/15 issue.

“But as to the 85/15 student ratio rule: there are facts conspicuously missing from the writings of Mr. Aaron Glantz, namely that the University has provided data to the auditors demonstrating that their 85/15 conclusions were incorrect for 6 of the 7 programs referenced. As shown with the correct data below, only one of the programs cited by Mr. Glantz actually exceeds the 85/15 ratio, and for that program, the University agreed voluntarily to close enrollment to VA students.

“Among other facts from the CSAAVE audit at University of Phoenix-San Diego that Mr. Glantz fails to report; that charges to VA beneficiaries for tuition and fees were the same or less than the charges to other similarly circumstanced students; that University of Phoenix was found to comply with all of the VA Principles of Excellence; that University of Phoenix does not use fraudulent and unduly aggressive recruiting; that University of Phoenix provides detailed educational plans outlining graduation requirements; that the school had no discrepancies except the 85/15 student ratio limitation; and that veterans were interviewed and were pleased with their programs and had no negative comments about the school.

“We are still awaiting a final closing letter from CSAAVE which they have been instructed to provide by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. But for your story, please know that we have showed auditors the following facts and await their official acknowledgement in the form of a final closing letter to the audit.”

The following percentages represent the 85/15 student ratio calculation in specific programs at University of Phoenix-San Diego:

  1. B.S. organizational security and management – 89.62%
  2. B.S. human services – 25.98%
  3. B.S. information technology - 71.43%
  4. B.S. management – 57.14%
  5. M.A. education– 69.23%
  6. M.S. administration of justice and security (criminal justice) – 66.67%
  7. MBA - 62.57%

The state says the University of Phoenix must stop enrolling veterans in seven of its local programs, including its MBA program, unless it can get a waiver from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. The move stems from a state audit of the for-profit university.

The state says the school violated a rule meant to keep for-profit institutions from cobbling together programs and aggressively recruiting veterans for them so they can cash in on the G.I. Bill. The rule says veterans on the G.I. Bill can't make up more than 85 percent of a program cohort.

Col. Patrick Uetz runs the Initiative to Protect Student Veterans at the University of San Diego. He said regardless of the VA's ruling on the matter, local veterans advocates are keeping veterans in the know.

"When information like this is available, the veterans service organizations at the national level and at the local level, one of the first things they want to do is get the information out to the veterans so that they can make informed decisions," Uetz said.

The United Veterans Council of San Diego County counts the University of Phoenix as one of its affiliates. It said it sent a letter to the institution giving it five days to explain the situation and lay out a plan to correct it, or it will drop it from the organization.

Mark Brenner, chief of staff for the University of Phoenix's parent company, Apollo Education Group Inc., said in a statement that only one of the campus programs — its bachelor's degree in security and management — is out of compliance with the rule and that it received high marks in every other review category.

A recent investigation by Center for Investigative Reporting asked whether for-profit institutions with poor track records should be eligible for taxpayer dollars through the G.I. Bill. It found the University of Phoenix's San Diego campus has an overall graduation rate of just 15 percent.

A congressional report out Tuesday shows the amount of taxpayer dollars being spent to send veterans to for-profit institutions skyrocketed between 2010 and 2013. Last year, for example, what taxpayers spent in the for-profit sector was nearly as much was spent for the entire G.I. Bill two years earlier. For-profit colleges received $1.7 billion of the $4.17 billion spent on the G.I. Bill program during the 2012-2013 school year.

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