State halts veteran admissions

By ANDREW PAXTON

Pima Community College is prohibited from enrolling new student veterans for at least 60 days following a suspension of benefits from the Arizona Veterans Education & Training Approving Agency.

 
A March 18 letter from the VETAA to Chancellor Lee Lambert detailed the reasons for the sanction, including failure to accurately report enrollment and incomplete record keeping.

 
The VETAA stressed that these were repeat findings, and the college had failed to act after deficiencies were found by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012.

 
The college created an action plan but never implemented it, according to the letter.

 
“Pima clearly dropped the ball in the way we document and track the services we provide to our veteran education benefit recipient students,” Lambert said in a press release.

 
Veterans currently eligible for federal education benefits, such as the Post 9/11 GI-Bill or the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, are prohibited from enrolling at PCC under the sanctions.

 
The enrollment freeze does not affect the approximately 1,300 veterans already attending Pima.

 
The college has until April 18 to submit an action plan to the VETAA and will be subject to random spot checks for another 30 days after the plan is approved.

 
“I have directed the appropriate offices within the college to make this matter their top priority,” Lambert said.

 
“I fully expect that we will be able to regain the confidence of state and federal veteran’s officials over the next eight weeks so that we can continue to certify new veterans education benefit recipients for our summer and fall terms,” he said.

 
Summer classes at Pima begin May 27 and July 1.

 
However, the VETAA will make their formal inspection in June or July.

 
Following their visit, they will decide whether to lift the suspension or proceed with the withdrawal of approval of all programs offered by Pima for veterans education benefits.

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