Post-9/11 GI Bill Was a Windfall for For-Profit Colleges: Senate Committee

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — In his June 18 testimony before the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized the importance of controlling indirect compensation in the Defense Department budget, which includes education benefits to military personnel under the GI bill.

Subcommittee chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that the Defense Department could save a ton of money if it "put an end to the subsidizing of for-profit colleges and universities" that charge twice the tuition of a public college--tuition paid by veterans through the GI Bill. At the end of the day, Defense Department funding to for-profit colleges was not threatened.

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Now the Senate Health, Education and Pensions (HELP) Committee has released a report concluding that the Big Eight for-profit colleges got 23% of the Post-9/11 GI Bill funds. For-profit college enrollment has fallen across the board—except among veterans, whose enrollment has increased dramatically.

Intended for veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, or the Veterans Education and Assistance Act, was intended to be an update to the existing GI Bill which evolved from its World War II precursor. Benefits first became available in August 2009.

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"While the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill was designed to expand educational opportunities for our veterans and service members, I am concerned that it is primarily expanding the coffers of the big corporations running these schools," said Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, chair of the HELP committee. "It is evident that more needs to be done to ensure that veterans and service members, who have sacrificed so much for our nation, are receiving a quality education—and that taxpayer dollars aren't wasted on shoddy programs."