Those using the GI Bill should get solid education taxpayers expect

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Over the past decade tuition for higher education has risen sharply, a result of public universities receiving less subsidy from taxpayers in their states.

During that time period, the United States was engaged in two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq. Veterans of those wars returned home with the promise of an education funded by taxpayers. In 2009, the new GI Bill was approved, giving veterans the most generous education benefits since World War II.

This was not missed by entrepreneurs who saw opportunity to start or expand for-profit universities.

The amount veterans are now spending on these schools is staggering. The cost of a veteran attending a for-profit college is about twice what a public schools cost.

It’s also concerning when veterans aren’t getting the education promised and for which taxpayers are needlessly paying more than necessary.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, released a report last week concluding for-profit colleges received $1.7 billion in post-9/11 GI Bill benefits in the 2012-2013 school term. That amounts to about one-fourth of all the benefits paid during the time.

Among the top 10 recipient schools in terms of GI Bill funds, eight were from the for-profit sector, according to the report.

According to The Associated Press, one of the for-profit schools that received the most business was Corinthian Colleges, a chain based in Santa Ana, Calif. It recently reached an agreement with the federal Education Department to sell or close its more than 90 U.S. campuses. The Education Department said it has concerns about the chain’s operations that included allegations of falsifying job placement data used in marketing claims to prospective students, and allegations of altered grades and attendance.

Corinthian is not alone on the naughty list. The report finds seven of the eight for-profit companies face investigations by states attorneys general or federal agencies for “deceptive and misleading recruiting” or other federal violations.

The federal government needs to look further into these problems and take action to protect veterans — and everyone else. Many of those attending who are not veterans have taken out federal student loans to pay eduction expenses.

Veterans are at higher risk of being duped by a for-profit industry because they tend to be older, nontraditional college students looking for offerings in skilled trades so they can get jobs and flexibility such as online classes so they can keep working while in school.

Now, to be fair, many of the for-profit schools are legit.

But before tax dollars are used to find an expensive college education, the schools seeking veterans as students should be vetted.

The report from Harkin’s committee makes that clear.

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