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Senate Hearing on Improving Educational Outcomes for Veterans, Service Members

September 23, 2011

capitol sunset

 

​The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a subcommittee hearing yesterday on the Post-9/11 GI Bill and for-profit schools, the primary focus of which was the 90/10 rule, which requires at least 10 percent of an institution’s funding to be from sources other than federal aid.

Post-9/11 GI Bill and military tuition assistance funds do not count as federal financial aid, and many for-profit institutions would have problems meeting the standard if GI Bill money and Pentagon tuition assistance funds were counted as part of the 90 percent.

As expected, everyone testifying at the hearing except the for-profit school representative agreed that GI Bill funds should be considered part of the 90 percent. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) started off the testimony by discussing a new report released by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), which found that last year, for-profit colleges received more than a third of the $4.4 billion spent on veterans and military tuition assistance. Eight of the 10 institutions receiving the largest amounts are for-profits, and they took in a combined total of more than $1 billion.

Curtis Coy and Keith Wilson of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said reclassifying GI Bill funds to the 90 side of the 90/10 divide is acceptable if it is done carefully to avoid repercussions for veterans.

In responding to a question from Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) about what the VA could do better, Coy and Wilson said the VA has revamped its compliance program for state approving agencies, which must review any institution seeking federal funds. Next month, the VA plans to provide compliance surveys for for-profits. They also discussed understaffing at these approving agencies as well as outreach and support programs for veterans.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) asked Coy and Wilson for their take on Hollister Petraeus’s New York Times op-ed about negative incentives created under the current 90/10 rule. While agreeing with the overall assessment, they once again said the VA wants to move with care to avoid negatively impacting veterans.

For the media’s take on the hearing and the Senate HELP report, see the following stories:

Serving Soldiers?
Inside Higher Ed

Highlighting Flow of Military Benefits to For-Profits, Senators Seek Changes in Key Rule
The Chronicle of Higher Education

For-Profit Colleges Collect Large Share of Federal Dollars Under New GI Bill
The Washington Post (free reg. req.)

Too Much GI Bill Money Going to For-Profit Schools?
NPR

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