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Winston-Salem Journal - Hagan Bill Would Stop Misuse of Federal Dollars by For-Profit Colleges


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U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is out front in fighting for our active-duty military personnel and veterans with a bill that targets for-profit educational institutions that spend large amounts of federal education dollars on marketing and recruiting efforts that are sometimes deceptive.

A Senate investigation found that in 2009 15 large, publicly traded, for-profit colleges received 86 percent of all their revenues from federal student-aid programs and spent 23 percent of those revenues, or $3.7 billion, on advertising, marketing and recruiting efforts, according to Hagan's Washington office. In contrast, the University of North Carolina system spent 1.3 percent on marketing in the same period. Many for-profit colleges offer mostly technical-training programs and attract students with cable television advertising that implies graduates will get jobs.

"I'm particularly troubled by the tactics some for-profit colleges have employed in targeting active-duty servicemen and women and their spouses," Hagan said in a prepared statement. She criticized some for-profit colleges for using "taxpayer dollars to fund aggressive and often misleading recruiting practices."

The Department of Veterans Affairs disbursed $102 million in post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to 15,209 veterans at 185 institutions in North Carolina from August 2009 to July 2011, Hagan's office reported. For-profit schools received 23.7 percent of that money but trained only 12 percent of the veterans. The UNC system received 42 percent of post-9/11 G.I. Bill funds and trained 68 percent of the veterans.

Hagan, a Democrat who serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which conducted the investigation, has introduced legislation that would require colleges to use non-federal dollars for marketing, advertising and recruiting. The Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act is co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

Hagan did not name any for-profit colleges in her remarks, but documents released with the announcement listed the top five North Carolina for-profit colleges receiving the most post-9/11 G.I. Bill funds as ITT Technical Institutes, The Art Institutes of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, ECPI College of Technology, Miller-Motte College and University of Phoenix.

Hagan has championed military personnel and their families with several initiatives since being elected to the Senate, including family support and educational assistance for military spouses. She cosponsored a bill that ensures partisan budget battles do not interfere with funding for veterans' health care. And she supported a law to give necessary support to family caregivers of veterans.

We commend Hagan for acting to end the wasteful use of federal student dollars by for-profit colleges, and for her continuing commitment to our military personnel and veterans.

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