In a letter to the state agency, the VA said its performance had “significantly declined to an unacceptable level” over the past three years. It said the agency had failed to complete required surveys of schools and approve educational programs on military bases.
The letter also cited the agency's decision not to approve Ashford.
The state agency's "continued refusal to adhere to the requirements of the cooperative agreement has negatively impacted the ability of veterans and qualifying dependents to maximize their utilization of VA educational assistance benefits,” wrote Charmain Bogue, executive director of the VA’s education service.
The California Department of Veterans Affairs, known as CalVet, oversees the quality of 1,600 colleges and training facilities that serve military veterans, inspecting the schools and verifying information about their financial stability, job placements and accreditation.
“CalVet takes very seriously our responsibility to protect taxpayers and veterans from waste, fraud and abuse while ensuring veterans in California receive the education and training they are paying for with their earned GI Bill benefits,” said department spokeswoman Lindsey Sin. She added that the federal VA "has taken exception with many of our actions over the years and continues to disagree with our efforts to protect veterans’ educational benefits in California.”
Sin said the VA’s letter was “riddled with inaccuracies.”
The letter does keep open the possibility that the VA would sign a new contract with the California agency if it worked to “resolve all outstanding issues.”
In the meantime, VA spokeswoman Christina Mandreucci said the department would work closely with the state agency to ensure California veterans can use their education benefits at approved schools. The decision will take effect Oct. 1, she said.
CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. This story and other higher education coverage are supported by the College Futures Foundation.