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Obama order targets student loan pitches to veterans

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President Obama will sign an executive order Friday aimed at stopping predatory practices that target veterans, service members and their families, according to senior White House officials.

Since the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008, veterans advocates, media outlets and lawmakers have reported deceptive practices by some for-profit career colleges. Some schools have recruited veterans with serious brain injuries and emotional vulnerabilities who lack appropriate academic support and counseling, according to the White House, while others have encouraged service members and veterans to take out expensive loans instead of applying for federal student aid.

The order is to be signed during a visit by the president and first lady Michelle Obama to the Army’s Fort Stewart in Georgia.

The order will direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to notify the roughly 6,000 schools that participate in the GI Bill program that they are expected to provide students with a federal form called “Know Before You Owe,” which describes federal financial aid and other information. The VA will post information on its Web site about which schools have agreed to follow the order.

The Washington Post Co. operates for-profit schools through its Kaplan subsidiary.

The order also directs the VA to register the term “GI Bill,” a step urged by some lawmakers and veterans advocates, who complain that some businesses use words in their Web addresses to imply that they are government-sanctioned.

In addition, the VA and the Defense Department will be ordered to work with other federal agencies to create a centralized system through which service members and veterans can file complaints.

The order is also intended to help the Justice Department and law enforcement agencies investigate allegations of fraud, according to the White House.

Legislation has been introduced on Capitol Hill addressing some of the reported problems, but a White House official said the executive order would be “using existing authority to make sure veterans are being treated fairly.”

Related story: Obama focusing on military families

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