For-Profit Colleges Recruit Vets For Cash

by Chris Kirkham and Alan Zarembo, Los Angeles Times

student_loans-smMany of the nation’s largest for-profit college chains have seen enrollments plummet amid investigations into questionable job placement rates and deceptive marketing practices.

One crucial source of revenue, however, has remained a constant: military veterans.

For-profit colleges have collected $8.2 billion from the latest GI Bill since it went into effect in 2009, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of government data. Those colleges enroll only 8% of all U.S. students but 30% of the 1.4 million veterans who have used the most recent version of the GI Bill.

That money for years helped prop up some of the industry’s most distressed institutions — including ITT Educational Services Inc. and bankrupt Corinthian Colleges Inc. — which needed the funding to meet tough regulatory requirements.

To keep the GI Bill money flowing, the industry aggressively targeted veterans, and often hired them to help recruit their brethren returning home from the battlefields, according to internal school memos and interviews with former students and employees.

U.S. Army veteran Don’re Walker took one of those recruiting jobs at an ITT campus in Orange County in 2012. He quit less than a year later.

His department faced intense pressure to enroll GI Bill beneficiaries, Walker said. Once he understood the school’s high tuition costs — and students’ low probability of transferring credits to traditional colleges — he regularly advised veterans against attending.

“It was basically ‘Get people in any way possible,'” he said. “They were exploiting my brothers.”

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