Democratic lawmakers have set their sights on for-profit colleges after a new report unveiled that the institutions have taken advantage of taxpayer dollars.
After five congressional hearings and a stockpile of documents from 30 for-profit schools, Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) investigation found that these institutions have used questionable marketing tactics to boost enrollment, that includes targeting of veterans with hopes of wing funding from the G.I. Bill.
“These practices are not the exception, they are the norm,” Harkin said at a Capitol Hill press conference Monday. “They’re systemic throughout the industry with very few individual exceptions.”
According to the report, for-profit schools charge nearly double in tuition than a 4-year public school does and about six times more than a local community college.
To make matters worse, lawmakers argue that despite paying more, students who attend for-profit schools aren’t necessarily getting the biggest bang for their buck. The average dropout rate is near 50 percent and the number of students who do graduate don’t find the jobs they were promised when being recruited.
More important, Harkin’s investigation shows that these are employing questionable marketing strategies by specifically targeting veterans eligible for funding under the G.I. Bill. In fact, over one-third of all G.I. Bill funding goes to for-profit schools.
Harkin admitted that not much is likely to materialize on the legislative front, especially during an election, but expects there to be movement on the issue in 2013.
“Honestly, this year I don’t think we’re going to get much done,” Harkin said. “But we’re setting the stage for some very severe questions to be asked by the public.”