Durbin: Illinois Agency Should Take Action Against Westwood College Calls on approving agency to make criminal justice program - under investigation by Illinois AG - ineligible for federal GI Bill funds
As the agency tasked with approving schools and education programs to participate in the GI bill program, veterans rely on state approving agencies for assurance of the integrity of the school they attend.
The State Attorney General recently filed lawsuit against Westwood College for engaging in deceptive practices that left Chicago area students with up to $70,000 each in debt for degrees that failed to qualify them for careers in criminal justice. The lawsuit alleges that Westwood marketed its criminal justice program by falsely convincing students the program would allow them to pursue a law enforcement career with agencies such as the Chicago Police Department, Illinois State Police and suburban police departments. Those employers don’t recognize the criminal justice degree from Westwood because Westwood lacks regional accreditation. Many students learned only after graduation—and after accumulating thousands in student loan debt—that their degrees would not land them the law enforcement jobs they originally sought.
Although the Attorney General’s lawsuit is not yet settled, the seriousness of the allegations merit immediate action to protect prospective students from the same fate that has befallen too many Westwood students already.
Providing veterans with education benefits makes sense when we can ensure that veterans are receiving a quality education, but we cannot afford to spend limited federal dollars for poor quality programs at schools that overpromise and underperform. The Illinois state approving agency is well positioned to provide assurance to taxpayers and students in Illinois that GI bill benefits are only going to institutions of quality and rigor that are likely to produce good outcomes for veterans.
I look forward to working with you to guarantee a high-quality education for all our veterans.