Senators Unveil New Data Detailing Alarming Trend of Misguided Use of America’s Veterans’ Education Benefits

Eight of the Ten Biggest Recipients of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Education Funds are For-Profit Colleges with Poor Rates of Student Success

WASHINGTON — Today, Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Jim Webb (D-VA) released troubling new statistics showing that the top 10 recipients of Post 9/11-G.I. Bill education benefits include eight for-profit higher education companies, even as students attending colleges operated by these companies have a one year drop-out rate of almost 60%. At a press conference today, the three Senators, all veterans themselves, expressed their commitment to ensuring that the men and women who have bravely served our nation since 9/11 are able to take full advantage of this comprehensive, one-time education benefit and receive a quality education.

“I believe that we have a moral imperative to provide our military members and veterans with opportunities to achieve the best educational outcomes, so that those who have sacrificed for our country can obtain an education that will equip them with the skills they need to find a good job, repay any colleges loan they’ve incurred and go on to live productive lives,” said Sen. Carper. “Everything I do, I know I can do better. The same can be applied to veteran and military education programs. We must focus on how we can fix problems within the higher education system by better incentivizing all schools to deliver a higher quality education to our military and veteran populations.”

“Over the last year, our HELP Committee investigation has revealed that many of these subprime colleges focus on recruiting and enrolling students with little concern for whether students succeed. These practices are even more troubling when it comes to our newest generation of veterans’ ability to obtain a college education and the economic opportunity that accompanies it,” said Sen. Harkin. “The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill education benefit is intended to be a gateway to opportunity for those who have bravely served our country, but I am concerned that many of those who use their one-time benefit at a for-profit college are being denied the chance to get a good education and begin a fulfilling career. We need to step up oversight of veterans’ education benefits to ensure that these brave men and women receive the quality education they deserve.”

“I introduced the Post-9/11 GI Bill on my first day in office to provide those who have served since 9/11 with the most comprehensive educational benefits since World War II,” said Sen. Webb. “Abuses of the World War II program, especially among for-profit vocational schools, led to the follow-on restrictions of that program and to even stricter safeguards under the program established after the Korean conflict, and eventually to the parsimonious GI Bill given those who served during the Vietnam War. My number one goal is to ensure that we are providing a high quality education to our veterans and to not repeat the mistakes we have made in the past, and I will be looking closely at a few areas to ensure that we are providing accountability and adequate oversight to the for-profit sector in the coming months.”

The HELP Committee analysis of new data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs revealed:

  • Of the ten educational institutions collecting the most V.A. benefits, eight are for-profit schools. Together, those eight companies collected $1 billion last year (24% of all benefits).
  • The cost to taxpayers to send a veteran to a for-profit school is more than double the cost of a public university education: $10,900 vs. $4,900.
  • Of the eight for-profit college companies receiving the most G.I. Bill funds, a combined 409,437 students withdrew from degree programs within one year of enrolling.
  • The cost to federal taxpayers is out of proportion to the number of veterans served. For-profit schools collected more than one-third (37 percent) of all G.I. Bill funds, but trained only 25 percent of veterans, while public colleges and universities received 40 percent of benefits but trained 59 percent of veterans.

To read the full analysis, click here.

Senator Harkin, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has conducted an investigation into the for-profit college sector over the past year, and released a report last December on the industry’s recruitment of veterans.