For years, for-profit schools have preyed upon veterans, and Betsy DeVos wants to make it even easier for them to do so.
Since taking office, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has shown a complete devotion to deregulation at the expense of vulnerable students. Now, veterans' groups are calling her out on a particularly egregious offense: She's allowing the for-profit schools she loves so much to fund themselves with G.I. Bill money, while they do next to nothing —or worse — for vets.
Veterans are uniquely sought after by for-profit schools when they are bringing G.I. Bill money. Schools have to follow what is called the 90/10 rule: 90 percent of their funding can be taxpayer dollars (like federal student aid), but the remaining 10 percent has to be private money. Thanks to a loophole in how the federal government views funding, G.I. Bill funds are currently viewed as private money, even though they are clearly taxpayer funds as well.
Thanks to the loophole, these for-profit schools can fund themselves almost entirely with G.I. Bill funds, and they're caught time and time again screwing over vets. Eight of the ten schools that receive the most G.I. Bill money are for-profit colleges, and six of those have defrauded students.
A recent New York Times op-ed notes, "Despite robust objections from roughly three dozen national veterans and military service organizations, Secretary DeVos elected to eviscerate student protections and quality controls for colleges."
This reality — veterans being fleeced by for-profit colleges — stands in stark contrast to the administration's supposed commitment to veterans. But DeVos has been cozying up to the for-profit college industry for the entire time she's been Secretary of Education. She came into office with holdings in companies that harass student loan borrowers, and she had investments at firms that own for-profit colleges.
Within just a few months of becoming secretary, she named Julian Schmoke to lead the fraud enforcement unit. Schmoke came from DeVry University, a sketchy for-profit school that, just before Trump took office, paid a $100 million settlement with the FTC because they misled students with false claims of high employment rates.
After that, Devos went on to kill investigations into for-profit schools. Just last month, she floated a plan to massively roll back oversight of higher education to the point where accredited schools could farm instruction out to non-accredited providers, and students wouldn't even be informed they were getting instruction from the non-accredited partner. Another proposed change would lead to students learning on their own via self-help videos rather than having a teacher.
DeVos has enjoyed two years of being free of scrutiny while she makes her moves to sell education to the highest bidders. That all ended when the Democrats took the House in the midterms. Among other things, the House Education Committee is planning to look into DeVos' recent replacement of the Department of Education's acting inspector general. That person was replaced while they were looking into DeVos' reinstatement of an accreditor of for-profit colleges.
Veterans — and all students — deserve better than a Department of Education that exists to line the pockets of for-profit colleges with taxpayer dollars while providing a subpar education and no job prospects.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.