Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security, chaired the hearing, "Improving Educational Outcomes for our Military and Veterans." For more information on the hearing or to watch a live webcast, click here.

Sen. Carper's statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

"As we hold this hearing, our nation's debt stands at over $14.6 trillion. Ten years ago, it stood at less than half that amount – $5.7 trillion. If we remain on our current course, it may double again by the end of this decade.

"Currently, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is working to provide us with a roadmap to reduce our cumulative federal deficits over the next decade by more than $1.2 trillion. I believe that it's imperative that we do better than that. With the same goal in mind, this subcommittee repeatedly has asked the question 'Is it possible to achieve better results for less money?'

"Oftentimes, I've said in this hearing room that Americans believe a culture of spendthrift prevails in Washington. They're not entirely wrong. We need to establish a different kind of culture – a culture of thrift. We need to look in every nook and cranny of federal spending and find places where we can do more with less or do more with the same amount of money. This subcommittee has spent the last six years doing just that.

"Most of us in this room today, however, understand that we can't simply cut our way out of debt, tax our way out of debt or save our way out of debt. We also must grow our way out of debt. We can do so, in part, by making investments in education that will make Americans more productive workers.

"For years, the GI Bill helped us to achieve this goal by raising the skill levels of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have served in our military and were returning to civilian life.

"However, in 2008, it became clear to Congress that after years of multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, our modern-day military needed a modern-day GI Bill to ease our troops' transition into civilian life.

"That's why we passed the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which pays for the tuition and housing costs of any member of the military who served more than 90 continuous days on active duty since Sept.10, 2001 and has 36 total months of active duty service. To date, $11.5 billion has been spent to send veterans back to school under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

"However, recent reports show that many veterans have been subjected to highly questionable recruitment practices, deceptive marketing and substandard education instruction in some of the schools they attend, including some for-profit schools. These problems highlight a key flaw in our higher education system. Currently, the incentives at some for-profits are misaligned.

"These institutions are rewarded for enrolling more students – especially veterans with a fully paid for education – but have little incentive to make sure that their graduates are prepared to join the workforce and begin productive careers.

"Having said that, let me say, as clearly as I can, that this is not an issue solely at for-profit schools. There are also many public – as well as some private –colleges and universities that experience similar issues with extremely low degree completion rates, high default rates and a poor record of serving our veterans. And to be fair, there are also a number of for-profit institutions that offer a quality education and have a history of success with placing students in well-paying jobs.

"We are here today because I believe we have a moral imperative to ensure that these abusive practices – no matter where they occur – are stopped 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.

"Today's hearing will focus on how we can fix this problem by better incentivizing schools to deliver a higher quality education to our military and veteran population. We will examine what efforts have improved educational outcomes and enhanced the ability of veterans and our military to receive good-paying jobs after graduation. We will also examine what hasn't worked and why flawed federal policies might encourage schools to continue with practices that don't serve students well."