PCC to freeze enrollment for students on veteran's education ben - FOX Carolina 21

PCC to freeze enrollment for students on veteran's education benefits

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Arizona Department of Veteran's Affairs has ordered Pima Community college to suspend enrollment of new students who receive veterans education benefits.

This comes after the department found several violations related to poor record keeping after an audit last year.

According to a letter from April Monthie, the Senior Veterans Education and Training Specialist, the following violations were cited.

The institute failed to accurately and promptly report enrollment, tuition and fees.  The institution failed to promptly notify the VA of changes that affect the amount of payment to beneficiaries.  The institution failed to ensure VA beneficiaries are enrolled in and pursuing the approved program of study as certified, and the Institution failed to maintain a record of previous education and training of VA beneficiaries, to grant appropriate credit, and to report the amount of credit to the beneficiaries.

The letter goes on to say these are repeat findings from a previous audit conducted in 2012.  At that time school officials provided a plan of action, but failed to follow through.

College officials stressed this affected the enrollment of new students only.  Students who are currently enrolled in approved programs are not affected.

"We dropped the ball on how we merge our certification process," said PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert.  He added that this was very personal for him.

"My father served 21 years, he was a decorated war veteran.  I personally have served in the military as well," said Lambert.

PCC students like Dave Rafus, a Marine Corps veteran who served during Operation Desert Storm said the letter had him worried.

"This scares the heck out of me.  It's going to make me wonder is this degree going to be worth anything?  Is my money going to the right place?" said Rafus.

Chancellor Lambert said fixing the issues related to this audit were top priority for his office.

"We're on probation presently does not mean that coming to Pima ends up being negative for you.  While all this is happening, all your credits are good.  They are transferable to any university that is part of a regionally accredited institution," said Lambert.

Rafus said it was obvious the college needed to clean house.

"In the military if you have a problem you tackle it head on.  You don't dance around it.  You got a problem, you fix it," said Rafus.

PCC officials said they had already started taking steps to address the issue.

Lambert said they had recently hired three new veterans services specialists and planned to hire three more.  They also planned to go through thousands of student files, not once, but twice to make sure they were following the proper procedures.

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The college has been given 60 days to fix the issues.

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