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Veteran Student Loans Subject Of Congressional Hearing In San Diego

Members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and House Education and Labor...

Photo by Andi Dukleth

Above: Members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and House Education and Labor Committee take testimony at Grossmont College in El Cajon, April 24, 2019.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee and House Education and Labor Committee took testimony at Grossmont College in El Cajon on Wednesday.

Congress is looking at issues surrounding how for-profit schools use federal student loan dollars. Members were told how some schools target veterans and their education benefits from the Forever GI Bill.

“They create a convenience within our systems that sometimes we’re not able to match," said Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego. “On the other hand, what good is convenience if you wind up in a worse place then when you started?”

Davis chairs the education committee’s subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment. She said she has heard from students enrolled in for-profit schools like ITT Tech, which closed in 2016, leaving local veterans on the hook for student loans. Rep. Mike Levin, D-Dana Point, who chairs the Veterans Affairs committee’s subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, said he has heard similar stories from veterans in his North San Diego and Orange County district.

Video by Steve Walsh

Robert Muth, with the Veterans Legal Clinic at the University of San Diego, told members of Congress he represents dozens of veterans who say private colleges lied to them, telling them the schools would find them employment or that their credits would transfer to other schools. The Veterans Benefits Administration garnished the disability benefits of one of his disabled clients to repay his tuition, when the VA ruled his school should not have been eligible for payments under the Forever GI bill.

“Because the school wasn’t approved, though it was approved when he enrolled, they said that he should be responsible for the money laid out by the VA, not the school,” Muth said.

Schools seek out veterans because VA benefits are not counted toward a cap on the amount of federal student loan money that an institution can receive.

“They become a target for some of these institutions,” Muth said.

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