Veterans who plan to attend Temple University could lose their GI Bill benefits — in most cases nearly $37,000 a year — under a Department of Veterans Affairs plan that would make the school ineligible for the program because it used "erroneous, deceptive, or misleading” enrollment practices to boost its business school’s reputation.
The plan is directly related to the Fox School of Business falsely reporting to U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings issue, said Lauren Augustine, vice president of government affairs for Student Veterans of America, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington.
The revocation of benefits, however, would apply to new GI Bill students across all university programs, not just those enrolled in the business school. Veterans currently enrolled at Temple, as long as they remain students in good standing, will not lose their benefits.
Temple has 60 days to enact “corrective measures” that would prevent the loss of the benefits, the VA said. The department did not specify what corrective measures it wanted Temple to enact.
Temple spokesperson Ray Betzner said the school intends to outline to the VA the corrective measures it has already taken.
“Temple University and the Fox School of Business provide an excellent academic experience for all of its students, including veterans,” Betzner said in a statement. “We have just received this notice from the Department of Veterans Affairs and will respond as requested to demonstrate the substantial corrective actions that have been undertaken. We look forward to continuing to provide an outstanding education to veterans. It is important to note that our current veteran students are not affected by this announcement.”
The business school’s reputation took a hit in January 2018, when its online M.B.A. program lost its top spot in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings because it had inflated GPA and GMAT scores in data it had submitted to the magazine for years.
Temple had 986 GI Bill students enrolled last year, the most of any school in the area
The GI Bill provides educational support to veterans, covering the payment of tuition and fees, a monthly housing allowance, and a stipend for textbooks and supplies for up to 36 months. Veterans who’ve served three full years can receive up to $36,936 a year to attend Temple: $16,658 for tuition (paid directly to the school); $19,278 housing allowance; and $1,000 for books, according to the VA’s website. Veterans who’ve served between 90 days and three years receive less.
Four other schools, the VA said, are also in jeopardy of losing their eligibility: University of Phoenix, which lured students through deceptive ads; the Career Education Corp., including Colorado Technical University and American InterContinental University, which misled students about the cost of its programs; and Bellevue University, which inaccurately portrayed the accreditation of its nursing program. The first three are for-profit businesses, while Bellevue is a non-profit.
"Temple was a big surprise to us,” said Augustine of Student Veterans of America. “I think there’s been quite a lot of shock around Temple being included [with the other schools] because it’s not often that actions are taken against public or private nonprofit institutions.”
Augustine said it’s rare for the VA to pull a school’s funding.
Over the years, Temple’s online M.B.A. program falsely reported numbers to U.S. News & World Report to boost its reputation. The false data it submitted contributed to the school’s No. 1 ranking before the scandal broke.
In the aftermath, the business school’s dean, Moshe Porat, was removed, and other measures were also taken. In December, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro reached a settlement with the school that includes $250,000 in new scholarships for Fox students.
“They lied to get a No. 1 ranking, which influences students’ decisions," said Augustine. “This is the right decision to ensure that VA educational benefits and, ultimately, taxpayer dollars aren’t being used in a misleading way at institutions.”