WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a provision was added to the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would allow exploitative for-profit colleges unfettered access to recruit on military bases, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today introduced an amendment that would strip that provision from the bill – protecting our servicemembers from for-profit colleges’ predatory practices. The amendment is also cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Al Franken (D-MN), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Ed Markey (D-MA).
“Congress should be defending our military against for-profit colleges’ predatory and aggressive tactics, not inviting these companies on bases where servicemembers live and work,” said Brown. “We need to keep for-profit colleges off of military bases and close the 90/10 loophole that allows them to exploit servicemembers and veterans.”
“This provision takes the current level playing field when it comes to base access for legitimate education activities by institutions of higher education, and tips the scales in favor of expanded access for large, for-profit institutions,” said Durbin. “Regardless of the guise under which that expanded access is granted, we know from experience it’ll be used to recruit more service members to these for-profit programs. It is a step in the wrong direction for our service members.”
“Predatory colleges have a long track record of targeting members of our armed forces and our vets to get to their GI Bill money," said Warren. "Too often, these schools sign people up, load them with debt, then leave them holding the bag—no useful college credit and no degree that will help them earn a living. Congress should be making it harder for greedy, for-profit schools to cheat the brave women and men who serve in uniform, not easier."
“This strong step is necessary to stop predatory for-profit schools from preying on our servicemembers where they live and work,” said Blumenthal. “We must close legal loopholes that reward bad actor profiteers from targeting troops on their bases. Just as they bravely protect our nation from military hostility, they deserve this protection from financial harm.”
Thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, military servicemembers and veterans receive educational benefits they can use to attend college—but because of a loophole in federal law that the Senators have cosponsored legislation to address, for-profit education companies have been incentivized to take advantage of men and women in uniform by aggressively targeting them with deceptive and misleading marketing and recruitment pitches. The Senators also wrote to U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Ash Carter in October 2015, calling for continued enforcement of action taken against for-profit college University of Phoenix for sponsoring social events on military bases to recruit servicemembers, paying to have its staff serve as the exclusive resume advisors in Hiring Our Heroes job fairs and workshops, and other offenses.
Under the 90/10 rule, for-profit education companies can receive no more than 90 percent of their operating revenue from federal student loans and grants. However, U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs educational benefits are exempt from this rule, which has led to predatory marketing and recruitment efforts targeted at servicemembers and veterans.