I recently attended a briefing held by Senators Tom Harkin and Tom Carper from the Senate Health Education and Labor (HELP) Committee on a potentially serious threat to student veterans and their families. Since implementation of the New GI Bill, for-profit colleges have received a disproportionate amount of GI Bill dollars. Of the ten educational institutions collecting the most V.A. benefits, eight are for-profit schools. Together, those eight schools collected $1 billion of the over $5 billion used in 2010 to educate veterans. Many of them have not returned the educational value and employment services that were promised to veterans when they enrolled.
This is a serious issue that IAVA has been tracking for over a year. Now we have the data and information to back up what we’ve been hearing from veterans who have been victimized. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Holly Petraeus said that predatory schools see veterans and service members as dollar signs in uniform.
It’s important to note that there are many for-profit schools that provide education and services to veterans who use distance learning or seek vocational degrees that are not available elsewhere. These schools are helping veterans and their families continue their educations and find meaningful employment. However, several reports have found that other for-profit schools will do anything to tap this pool of students. As a result, veterans, service members, and their families are not getting the educational training they have earned and they lose out on their benefits and credits. Many come out with degrees that do not help them achieve their professional goals. IAVA is fighting for ways to protect veterans’ educational options while ensuring that the bad actors in the for-profit educational industry are no longer able to take advantage of veterans and their families.
We currently do not know how many veterans have suffered at the hands of predatory schools. If you’ve had bad experiences with a for-profit college, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. IAVA has your back and will continue to work on this issue. You will be hearing more from us in the weeks and months to come.
Tom Tarantino is the Senior Legislative Associate at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America in Washington D.C. He served 10 years in the U.S. Army and returned from Iraq in 2006 after one year of deployment with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Follow him on Twitter at @TomTarantino.