Veterans No Longer Able To Use Their Educational Entitlements at NSS

Sep 8, 2021
John Wark

It is with great sadness, and more than a bit of frustration, that we announce that NSS is no longer able to enroll veterans that seek to use their GI Bill or other veterans entitlements in order to acquire the skills to start a well-paid, creative, and engaging technology career. Our approval to enroll veterans was revoked without warning or due process last week. There has also been no adequate explanation beyond the fact that there’s a new administration in Washington D.C. and they are looking at things “differently”. 

The Impact

We were informed that the 16 veterans currently enrolled in an active class at NSS will thankfully be able to continue using their entitlements for their current program. However, we were also informed, after a week of asking for reconsideration, that the nine veterans that were already accepted into classes starting between September 7 and October 2, would not be able to use their earned benefits. We can only interpret the VA’s decision as uncaring towards these nine veterans and we are actively pursuing other means to allow as many of them as possible to enroll using other financial resources - we hope to post another blog post on this subject tomorrow. 

We do know that we’re not the only school singled out in this manner. We’re not sure how schools were selected - we know of degree-granting institutions for example that lost their approval just as we did. What we believe with a high degree of confidence is that these decisions were dictated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and not by state-level decision-makers. 

Our Track Record With Veterans And The VA

We realize that there are predatory schools and that the VA must protect the integrity of the GI Bill program and protect veterans from being taken advantage of. But the loud noises from Washington D.C. have all been about abusive for-profit schools that leave veterans without useful skills and/or schools targeting veterans in order to harvest GI Bill dollars. Well, NSS is a non-profit school, not a for-profit. And, over the five years since we became an approved VA training provider, we have had 125 unique VA students out of a total of 1514 enrollments - in other words, veterans have been only 8.26% of our total enrollment. And here are a few other FACTS about NSS and veterans during the last five years:

  1. NSS passed a VA audit just a few months ago in early 2021. That audit was spotless. We were even recognized in a public meeting for the quality of our audit results. 
  2. Our student catalog/handbook, which seems to have been the starting point for the VA’s complaints, has previously been approved by the VA on seven separate occasions and none of the relevant content has changed in any material fashion since those approvals. 
  3. NSS has a solid track record of graduation and employment outcomes for our veteran students. Our records indicate that out of 125 VA students enrolled at NSS, 16 are still enrolled in class, leaving 109 that are out of their programs. Of those 109, 97 (88.9%) successfully completed their program. Of the 97 graduates, 76% were successfully placed in field using the skills they acquired at NSS while another 6% have only recently graduated (within the last 90 days) and are still in their job search. The average starting salary of our VA graduates placed in field over the past five years is $56,828. 

NSS has delivered results for our veteran students and good value for the taxpayers, which we always thought was the point. The outcomes noted above would seem to indicate that we’ve been anything but predatory. It’s hard to understand why a school with our performance is being singled out for the disrespectful treatment we have received.

It’s also very hard to stomach the way the VA has ignored the veterans that had already been accepted into programs at NSS and had rearranged their lives to take advantage of training for better careers. We are actively seeking to support each of those students, although we haven’t yet figured out how to compensate for them losing the monthly cost-of-living support that is part of their entitlement. We have several ways to deal with tuition, including offering veterans our Opportunity Tuition, but we’re not sure what we can do about their housing allowance. Again, we hope to post more on that subject tomorrow. 

The Future For Veterans At NSS

Once we have finished figuring out how to best support the nine students ignored by the VA, then we’ll consider what we at NSS will do about losing the right to allow veterans to use their earned veteran’s entitlements. If you’ve been following our blog, you know we were already concerned about changes to other VA regulations, in particular, the 85/15 rule, and whether we would be able to continue to allow veterans to use their GI Bill benefits once the new 85/15 regulations go into effect. We’ve been encouraged to reapply to be an approved veterans training provider, but that seems pointless if the new 85/15 regulations are going to disqualify us anyway. So we have things to sort out, but first, we have nine veterans who still deserve a chance to attend NSS, and this week we’re focusing on that. 

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