PCC schedules forums on vets' education benefits
Pima Community College will hold two forums, June 21 and 23, to provide information to students who have attended PCC since fall 2010 and received veterans education benefits.
The forums stem from a recent Department of Veterans Affairs audit of PCC, which required the review of about 3,000 case files. The state suspended enrollment in March after federal reviews found problems in the school's record-keeping procedures. In May, officials gave the college the go-ahead to enroll new students in veterans' programs
"Pima Community College is committed to providing the best educational experience for our veterans and their families, as well as effective administration of their benefits," Chancellor Lee Lambert said in a press release.
The meetings will include a discussion of the college's ongoing certification review.
Those with concerns about veterans education benefits are encouraged to attend, college officials said. Those who have received a debt letter from the VA should bring it to the forum, along with a copy of recent tax returns, to receive more information.
Because of problems uncovered during an audit, Pima had been barred from enrolling new students in programs funded with veterans benefits. Current students using veterans benefits — about 1,300 in the spring semester — were not affected by the order.
In March, Lambert acknowledged the college "clearly dropped the ball."
Veteran education benefit recipients are students eligible for federal veterans education benefits, such as the Post- 9/11 GI-Bill or the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program. Such students may include both military veterans, and family members using benefits under the GI Bill. Under federal regulations, schools must notify the government when these students drop out of school or take classes outside an eligible field of study.
A survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in December and January found that the school continued a pattern of poor record-keeping found in a 2012 compliance survey.
"According to the VA, these were repeat findings from a previous compliance survey conducted in 2012. Pima developed a plan to fix the problems at the time but did not implement it," school spokesman C.J. Karamargin said in March.
The plan to fix Pima's record-keeping was to be run by the school's provost office, which — along with much of the college's administration — has seen much turnover in the past 12 months as PCC works to get off a probation put in place by the Higher Learning Commission.