Proposed Bill Would Keep Many For-Profit Schools From Targeting Military Servicemembers

Legislation making its way though the Senate could put an end to for-profit marketing campaigns targeting servicemembers and their families by changing the way in which those schools count student aid.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2015, which passed the House last week and currently awaits Senate action, includes language that would place new restrictions on some of the federal military benefits currently used toward for-profit education.

The provision, which was introduced by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, changes the language of the “90/10 rule” – used to cap for-profit colleges’ federal funding – to include the Defense Department’s voluntary military education programs.

The current federal 90/10 rule is a provision in the law that bars for-profit colleges and universities from deriving more than 90% of their revenue from the U.S. Department of Education’s federal student aid programs. The other 10% needs to come from sources other than the federal government.

Currently, tuition assistance for servicemembers and MyCAA for their spouses are not included in the 90/10 calculation. Durbin and others believe the omission of these programs make servicemembers and their families vulnerable to aggressive recruitment by for-profit colleges.

If passed, the proposed legislation would also prevent these funds from being used for advertising and marketing purposes while requiring the Department of Defense to better track how the Tuition Assistance and MyCAA funding is being spent by for-profit colleges.

None of the funds made available by this Act… may be disbursed or delivered to an institution of higher education… unless the institution certifies to the Secretary of Defense that it will not use revenues derived from educational assistance funds provided in any form under any Federal law for advertising, marketing or student recruitment activities.

Durbin says in a news release that the recent failure of Corinthian Colleges Inc., its less than savory reputation and the fact that its schools have continued recruitment of students underscores the provision’s importance.

A recent Military Times article reported that the CCI-operated Heald College and Wyotech representatives were actively recruiting servicemembers at education events at four military bases just last week.

“Before signing up for class and student debt, every student should know Corinthian schools are going out of business,” Durbin says. “While my bill would bring much-needed long-term reform to the for-profit college industry, it can’t prevent students from enrolling in a failed for-profit college tomorrow. The Department of Education and state agencies around the country need to put an end to all new Corinthian College enrollments as several states have already done.”

Durbin Legislation Would Help Curb Predatory Marketing Of Armed Forces By For-Profit Colleges [Sen. Dick Durbin]