Two community colleges in Oregon are suing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over its attempt to collect millions of dollars in GI Bill benefits that the department says it overpaid for students enrolled in flight training programs, reports The Oregonian.
Flight programs have been scrutinized since the Los Angeles Times exposed one flight school connected with Southern Utah University for charging as much at $500,000 per student for training. Oregon schools, which have more reasonable fees according to an aviation expert, say their programs got caught up in the scandal, reported the Oregonian.
The department asked Portland Community College for about $6 million in repayment, Central Oregon for $3.2 million, Kalmath for $1.3 million, and Lane for $275,000.
As reported in the Oregonian, Lane gave the VA its money back, but Klamath and Portland Community Colleges sued the department, asking federal judges to stop the agency's attempts to collect debt until the schools are allowed to participate in the arbitration process. Central Oregon settled a similar lawsuit with the VA.
The colleges have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in these legal battles, reports the Oregonian. Several flight schools temporarily suspended their aviation programs as they worked to get back into compliance with the VA regulations, leaving some students to delay completion of their program, or quit altogether, the Oregonian reported.