President Wyatt Advocates in D.C. for SUU Flight Program

Published: April 06, 2015 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Southern Utah University President Scott L Wyatt travels to Washington, D.C. on Monday, April 6, to meet with Congressional delegates and interest groups, to discuss the University’s compliance with the GI Bill in the aviation program.

The aviation program at SUU, in partnership with Upper Limit Aviation, has been under scrutiny following an article by an investigative reporter at the LA Times on March 15, 2015. The reporter, Alan Zarembo, claimed that there was a “loop hole” in the GI bill that SUU and other flight schools were using to exploit the VA.

The GI bill (Serviceman’s Readjustment Act) was passed by Congress in 1944 to allow veterans the opportunity to attend school after serving. Veterans may attend any academic program at any accredited institution of their choosing, funded by the federal government. Flight school is included in the VA benefit through the GI Bill. Helicopter training is very specific and the cost of the equipment extremely high. SUU aviation students may earn one of three degrees, AAS, BA or BIS, as they concurrently work toward a pilot's license. Students also self-select which types of helicopters on which to train—flight instruction that comes at varied price points, dependent upon equipment-specific expenses.

SUU is working with its legislators to develop a sustainable and cost effective VA flight training model that will allow our veterans to continue receiving flight training as part of their education. While Zarembo’s article focused on the current cost of flight programs for GI-funded students, the root of recent media reports concerning SUU lies in the VA’s 85-15 rule. The VA's rules state 85% of SUU aviation students may be Veterans as long as 15% are private paying students. The VA is now questioning the administrative method of accounting for students under the 85-15 rule.

SUU provided an enrollment report January 21, 2015, when the semester began and is required to send another report at the beginning of the summer semester. On March 23, 2015, the VA requested an alternate student count, using an entirely different methodology. Under the new method, the University is six veteran students over the allowable limit, in proportion to its private pay students.

The University has suspended aviation program admission until the University and VA resolve changed admission practices. Coursework and flight instruction for current aviation students, will continue, uninterrupted.

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