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New Legislation Targets Schools Who Focus Getting GI Bill Benefits

February 23, 2012

This week, lawmakers became concerned over schools that target veterans specifically for G.I. Bill education benefits. The new legislation plans to limit how much federal funding that these institutions can receive if they do enroll more veterans than other schools. However, what is the measure that will define how these schools will be limited?

This legislation is actually being proposed after another legislative effort failed last month, which had also aimed at schools that have high veteran enrollment and low student satisfaction, but it’s likely that neither of these new legislations will pass because of conflict in how to regulate. In addition, veterans are benefiting more from an education, but if these schools lost funding, then they would also lose their credits.

Representative Jackie Speir who sponsored the bill, said that she is hopeful that the issue can become a bipartisan rallying point, as she has talked to various colleagues who are anxious about instigating any fights with for-profit education lobbyists in an election year.

”Their influence is huge,” said Speir. “But this shouldn’t be a political issue. We want to make sure that veterans go to colleges that are accountable, provide a quality education and give them a good shot at getting a decent job.”

The new legislation goes directly for federal law that would prohibit schools from getting more than 90 percent of their overall revenue from federal dollars. Currently that includes grants and loans from the Department of Education, but not G.I. Bill money, which comes from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The new bill and another legislation introduced in the Senate by Tom Carper on Thursday would change this fact, no longer allowing veterans to use education benefits at these schools. There is another legislation that also aims to cap the allowable federal dollars at 85 percent.

Carper stated that the current system actually provides incentives for certain school administrators to recruit veterans, knowing that they have guaranteed payouts. “They’re rewarded for enrolling those students but given little incentive to make sure that they graduate.”

The new legislation is also receiving support from Military Officers Association of America and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan Veterans of America, who want help in cleaning up the for-profit school market. They should have better recruiting practices and education priorities.

For-profit colleges have long opposed counting G.I. Bill funds toward the 90 percent cap, saying that it would unfairly limit veterans’ choice, thus forcing them to transfer schools. A response from Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities stated that positive and constructive solutions were helpful to protect veterans more and access to all educational benefits. In the same statement, APSCU said that almost 200,000 students use G.I. Bill benefits to attend non-traditional colleges. Senator Carper also stated that more than $11 billion has been distributed through G.I. Bill programs, which makes this issue also about taxpayer funds.

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