The state Department of Veterans Affairs has barred veterans or their dependents from using GI Bill education benefits to attend any of the eight Southland campuses operated by ITT Educational Services, it was announced today.

The suspension was initiated by the state’s office for veteran education as a result of ITT’s apparent inability to produce audited financial statements required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Education, said Keith Boylan, CalVet Deputy Secretary of Veteran Services.

“CalVet takes very seriously our duty to ensure our California Veterans receive the education and training they are paying for with their earned GI Bill benefits,” Boylan said, adding that ITT “does not meet the required accreditation standards for approval.”

The suspension precludes ITT from future enrollment or re-enrollment of the more than 1,400 veterans with access to veterans benefits who have attended ITT throughout California.

On Tuesday, the SEC announced fraud charges against ITT and two of its top executives for allegedly lying to investors about the poor performance of its student loan programs.

The company responded in a statement that the SEC’s action was “mistaken” and said that it will fight the charges.

“We vehemently disagree with the SEC’s position and we are confident that the evidence does not support the SEC’s claims,” the Carmel, Indiana- based company stated. “We are eager to have the court clear our reputation that has been unnecessarily endangered by the SEC’s action.”

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) today released an open letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan urging the DOE to “conduct an investigation of and exercise increased oversight over the for-profit college operator ITT Educational Services Inc.,” which has allegedly “engaged in deceptive and predatory lending practices, pushing students into high-interest loans they know cannot be repaid, at vast taxpayer expense.”

Another for-profit college chain, Santa Ana-based Corinthian Colleges Inc., filed for bankruptcy last week after closing more than two dozen of its remaining campuses, following a U.S. Department of Education probe into suspected bogus job placement rates.

City News Service

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