WASHINGTON — President Obama has signed an executive order that the administration says will crack down on colleges that prey on military veterans with misleading information about financial aid, credits and programs.
The move comes amid reports of for-profit schools aggressively targeting veterans and the tuition assistance money provided in the G.I. Bill. Administration officials said they’ve seen a pattern of some schools enrolling large numbers of military students. Some of the schools lure the students in with false promises of generous financial aid or take advantage of veterans suffering from brain injuries sustained at war.
“That’s appalling. That’s disgraceful. It should never happen in America,” Obama said before signing the order in front of a crowd of more than 10,000 troops at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Ga.
The executive order will require the Defense Department to come up with new rules limiting the access school recruiters have to military bases. It will require more transparent disclosure of financial aid options and easier access to information about school programs. The order also registers the term “G.I. Bill,” which allows the military to crack down on websites masquerading as official government sites.
A group representing for-profit schools called Obama’s move “deeply unfortunate.” Members of Congress already were working to correct these issues, noted Steve Gunderson, a former Wisconsin congressman and president of the Assn. of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.
“APSCU is disappointed that in the midst of these discussions, the president decided to bypass the Congress to address these issues with an executive order,” Gunderson said in a statement. “Career-oriented institutions proudly serve military and veteran populations, and work with congressional leaders in a bipartisan manner to address concerns about veteran education across all sectors of higher education.”
The president’s order was part of his campaign, dubbed “We Can’t Wait,” to act unilaterally on issues without waiting for congressional action.
Obama traveled to the base for the announcement with first lady Michelle Obama. Improving support for veterans and their families is one of the first lady’s chief causes.
“I want you all to know that America does have your backs,” Michelle Obama told the crowd.
“And we are just getting started. We are going to keep at this. We’re going to keep on working every day to serve all of you as well as you have served this country.”