Senate Committee Calls For-Profit Colleges' Recruitment of Veterans Into Question

Aug 11, 2014

Credit J Colman / Creative Commons

A new Senate committee report analyzes the impact of the G.I. bill on "for profit" colleges in the United States.

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which went into effect in 2009, provides money to veterans who want to get a college degree. It's thrown billions of dollars in taxpayer money to for-profit colleges, but according to Senator Chris Murphy, "Sixty-six percent of veterans who enroll in a for profit college with G.I. bill funds do not get a degree."

That's one finding of a new national report, which says for-profit colleges like the University of Phoenix, ITT, and DeVry, are the top recipients of G.I. bill money, even though their overall student enrollment is declining.

In 2010, for-profit colleges got about $650 million from veterans. Last year, that number exceeded $1.7 billion. 

Senator Chris Murphy discusses a report from the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at the state capitol in Hartford with veterans.
Credit Patrick Skahill / WNPR
"They deflate the cost of a degree, so we've really got to watch out here in Connecticut."
Chris Murphy

Murphy said there are good for-profit colleges out there, but "seven of the eight for profit colleges that are receiving the bulk of G.I. bill funding are under investigation today for misleading recruiting, including inflating job placement rates, underestimating program costs, and often unlawfully displaying military seals as a way of recruiting veterans to their schools," he said.

Murphy said the government needs to be tougher, willing to cut off federal funding for schools that don't meet basic performance standards. He said the government needs to do a better job of surveying veterans' college experience, tracking their graduation rates and rates of loan default.

He also urged veterans pursing degrees online to be careful. "There are a lot of veterans in Connecticut who are attending these online for profit schools. That's a lot easier for a lot of veterans, but there are really deceptive marketing practices being used by a lot of these big online schools to veterans," Murphy said. "They inflate their job placement numbers. They deflate the cost of a degree, so we've really got to watch out here in Connecticut."

According to the report, taxpayers are paying twice as much per year to send a veteran to a for-profit college versus a public college or university.