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Thursday, June 28, 2012 - Page updated at 06:30 p.m.
Settlement with states puts GIBill.com website in VA's hands
By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A California-based company accused of preying on veterans for their education benefits agreed Wednesday to pay $2.5 million to 20 states and turn over its website — GIBill.com — to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The consumer-protection settlement between the states and QuinStreet was filed Wednesday in a Frankfort, Ky., court.
"The actions were unconscionable and purposefully drove veterans to for-profit colleges who were perhaps more interested in getting their hands on the federal benefits than in educating our soldiers and their families," said Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in announcing the settlement.
The agreement comes against a backdrop in which military veterans are a lucrative market for colleges. The newly expanded Post 9/11 G.I. Bill will pay colleges of all types around $9 billion this year to educate nearly 600,000 veterans. As a result, many colleges boast of being "military friendly and "veterans friendly."
QuinStreet, an Internet marketing and media company, called the agreement a "significant step forward in helping to clarify expectations for school advertising online, and for related website design and content." QuinStreet said it didn't view its websites as misleading and that GIBill.com has never been a "material contributor" to its revenue.
The states alleged that QuinStreet violated consumer-protection laws while operating websites that generate leads primarily for the for-profit education industry. The states said several of the company's sites, including GIBill.com, deceptively gave the appearance that the sites were operated, owned or endorsed by the U.S. government or military.
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