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Eight of the 10 schools receiving the most Post-9/11 GI Bill funds last year are for-profit institutions with dropout rates as high as 69 percent for those working on associate and bachelor degrees — a sign that the government could be wasting money on military and veterans education benefits.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who has been studying for-profit schools that use federal funds, said he is concerned because the schools cost the government an average of nearly twice as much per veteran than public schools.
Cost alone would not be an issue if those attending the schools were getting a quality education, Harkin said. But the high dropout rates are disturbing and raise concerns the money is being wasted, he added.
Part of Harkin's concern is based on some of the schools' heavy-handed recruiting practices. He said schools should be judged as good for veterans based on outcomes — getting a degree and completing classes — not their aggressiveness in recruiting students and ability to receive federal education dollars.
"The dropout rate is just phenomenal," Harkin said. "We wouldn't be so concerned about the cost if they were getting something for it."
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said many for-profit schools "do a good job," but that is not true of every school.
"We need to be focused on outcomes and results," Carper said. "We ask so much of our men and women in uniform and their families. It is important that we ensure that our service members and our veterans are receiving a quality, affordable education."