Some for-profit colleges unfairly target U.S. veterans, offering false hope of improved career opportunities while leading ex-soldiers into debilitating debt, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday, calling for tighter regulation of the sector.
"We cannot allow some in the for-profit college industry to exploit these veterans with deceptive tactics," the Illinois Democrat said at a forum in Chicago addressing the issue.
A 3-year-old, post-9/11 G.I. Bill boosted education benefits for veterans and created a windfall for for-profit colleges, many of which, according to Durbin, cost more and have higher default and dropout rates than other schools.
Durbin said Monday he is introducing legislation to reduce incentives for for-profit colleges to employ what he characterized as misleading advertising and hard sales pitches to persuade veterans to sign up for classes.
"The recruiting tactics need to be carefully monitored by our government so they don't get out of hand,'' Durbin said. He added that the government should have a say because federal money allotted for veterans' education amounts to a subsidy for the sector.
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which represents the industry, defended the service the schools provide veterans.
"It is disappointing that Sen. Durbin has chosen to single out career-oriented institutions and cast these schools in a negative light,'' Brian Moran, the association's interim president, said in a written statement Monday.
Participants at Monday's forum included several veterans who claimed they fell victim to schools' aggressive recruiting. Bernetta Garrett said one for-profit school pushed her to upgrade her degree until she was tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
"I thought getting these degrees would help me get my children a better life,'' she said. "It hasn't been that way.''
But Moran, citing Durbin's proposed legislation, said any new restrictions would amount to an additional "burden that will make it harder for students to get the education they deserve."