NAICU Washington Update

VA Urged to Provide More Clarity in “Principles of Excellence” Request

June 22, 2012

NAICU has joined others in the Washington higher education community in requesting clarification of several aspects of the “principles of excellence” that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has asked institutions to endorse by June 30. The principles were set forth in Executive Order 13607 (see June 12 NAICU Washington Update story).

Earlier this month, the VA and other federal agencies held three webinars that were intended to respond to questions related to the principles. Unfortunately, they did not provide answers to many of the questions that have been raised about the obligations of institutions that endorse the principles.

Concerns about the lack of clarity have also been raised in the Senate. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) raised questions about the request during a June 13 hearing of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Burr said he had heard concerns from a number of North Carolina institutions about being asked to commit by June 30 to undertake activities that have not yet been defined.

He asked VA officials at the hearing if colleges could agree to the principles after the June 30 deadline, and was told that they could. The officials went on to offer a somewhat awkward explanation that June 30 is the deadline for institutions to register their "intent" to comply, but that full compliance wouldn't be expected until the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

They said the VA will not know "for some time" exactly how they will implement the policy, and that the "devil is in the details." Institutions that agreed to the principles would be listed on the VA's GI Bill website, they noted.  Burr concluded by urging the VA to consider extending the June 30 deadline.

MORE News from NAICU