Be Wary of For-Profit Colleges' Charm Offensive

Lauren Williams's picture

This week, members of the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) are visiting Capitol Hill, hoping to put a good face on the for-profit college industry. No doubt APSCU leaders are touting the academic and vocational courses they offer and the successes of their students. They are probably plugging the special programs created for active-duty military, veterans and their families.
However, there are many facts they don’t bother telling Congress. Among them: taxpayers spend twice as much to send a veteran to a for-profit college than they do to a public or non-profit college. For-profit colleges have collected nearly one-third of all Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits ($1.6 billion). And, many for-profit schools’ earnings continue to come almost entirely from federal funds.

APSCU isn’t talking about the for-profits’ dramatically high dropout rates and dismal student outcomes; or their high-pressure, misleading, and aggressive marketing tactics; or their exorbitant tuitions; or the huge debt students acquire. For example, where a bachelor’s degree from a state university might cost as little as $24,000, a similar degree from a for-profit could cost as much as $88,000.
Student vets are particularly desirable sources of income because of their enthusiasm to gain a higher education, their GI Bill and other federal funds, and their access to loans. What is more, GI Bill dollars are not counted toward the federal cap on for-profit companies’ access to federal education aid (the so-called “90/10 loophole”). Each enrolled veteran gives a for-profit college unique access to tens of thousands of GI Bill dollars intended to help them get an education and launch their careers. Instead, these monies enrich the for-profit schools and leave our veterans high and dry. 

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