Putting Education Reform To The Test

Congress Wary Of For-Profit Schools Recruiting Veterans

U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is a co-sponsor of a bill increasing oversight of GI Bill funds.

For-profit colleges and universities are swarming military veterans seeking more education after serving in Afghanistan, Iraq or some other location, NPR reports.

Te reason is simple: Veterans have access to college money though the GI Bill.

Many of the vets wind up on phone and email lists by seeking information through website which seem like they are connected to the GI Bill program:

Daniel Elkins, a legislative associate with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, recently did what a lot of vets do — he went to a site like gibill.com and answered a battery of questions about his educational goals and background. When prompted, he provided his email address and zip code.

The response, he says, was overwhelming.

“Within three to four days, I got in the excess of 70 phone calls and … well over 300 emails,” Elkins says.

That’s because gibill.com is a commercial site run by a company called QuinStreet, a so-called “lead generator.”

Lead generators like QuinStreet sell the information they collect primarily to for-profit colleges and universities. With their generous marketing budgets, for-profit schools can afford to pay for leads to guide them to vets considering enrolling in college.

But members of Congress may put the brakes on for-profit school that aggressively recruit students but may not deliver a degree worth its price. Kentucky’s Attorney General is leading a multi-state effort to investigate whether the sales pitches violate consumer protection laws.

For-profit higher education is a rapidly growing sector. For comparison, students at public colleges and universities received $18.4 billion in federal Pell Grants in 2010 while students at for-profits schools received $7.6 billion in Pell Grants.


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