Saturday, June 16, 2012

DoD putting final touches on schools agreement - Army News ...

By Cid Standifer - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jun 15, 2012 12:23:07 EDT

The Defense Department is moving closer to issuing its latest draft of a Memorandum of Understanding that will be required for schools receiving money from DoD?s tuition assistance program, according to Carolyn Baker, chief of the Pentagon?s continuing education programs.

During a webinar for school officials about President Obama?s April executive order setting out ?Principles of Excellence? for schools receiving tuition assistance or GI Bill funds, Baker said a new draft of the MOU has been finalized and is scheduled to be released this summer. Schools will have to sign a copy of the MOU in order to be eligible for TA, though Baker stressed that institutions that signed the version of the MOU released ? and later scuttled ? by DoD last fall will not have to sign a new one.

But this summer?s MOU will not cover all the Principles of Excellence. The document will include the executive order?s requirements that schools provide students with a degree plan, inform them about their federal financial aid eligibility, end fraudulent or inappropriate recruitment on military installations, and designate a point of contact for academic and financial advising.

It will not include the president?s requirements that schools give prospective students a personalized form outlining costs, financial aid and outcome data; receive accreditation before accepting students; and allow students to re-enroll after an absence caused by military service.

Baker said yet another version of the MOU ultimately will be required to cover all of the principles, though she did not say when that would happen.

?We will be working with Veterans Affairs and the Department of Education to make sure our policies mirror their policies in the future,? she said, ?though there might be some policy changes in reference to our current policy.?

During the same webinar, Veterans Affairs Department officials responded to some concerns about their implementation of the same principles. The department?s deputy undersecretary for economic opportunity, Curtis Coy, said VA is reviewing the June 30 deadline for schools to declare their intent to cooperate following congressional criticism of the timeline during a hearing last week. Coy said the summer deadline is designed to give students a chance to see which schools are on board before starting classes this fall.

Robert Worley, VA?s director of education services, said his department has not yet decided how to verify that schools are implementing the principles, but is considering expanding the compliance surveys carried out by state authorizing agencies through contracts with VA.

However, state officials have pointed out in recent months that they have received almost no additional funding from VA in recent years, even as the number of students receiving GI Bill benefits has skyrocketed.

When asked whether VA would like to set aside more funding for state authorizing agencies next year, Coy told Military Times on June 5, ?That would have to be reflected in the budget, and I?m not at liberty to talk about budget details right now.?

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