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November 04, 2010 4:42 PM Military Starts to Question For-Profit Education Programs

By Daniel Luzer

For-profit colleges have a lot of adversaries. Some of the most vocal advocates of the industry, however, often come from within. Instructors, administrators, and even students at for-profit schools are quite vocal about how good these schools are and how important it is to keep them open and operating more or less as they do now.

One institution closely affiliated with for-profit schools, the American military, is becoming a little more critical, however. According to an article by Joyce Jones in Diverse Issues in Higher Education:

For-profit universities and colleges are under an unflattering spotlight once again as congressional lawmakers and Department of Defense officials explore whether they are exploiting the military’s tuition assistance program.

The department currently monitors regular education programs on military installations but online programs are allowed to run pretty much as they wish, with little additional oversight from the military. Under a proposed new rule the Defense Department would “monitor the quality of online programs to ensure that they are sufficiently rigorous.”

In 2010 Defense will spend about $580 million for soldiers to members to take college courses. About 40 percent of that, or $232 million, went to for-profit colleges. The majority of this goes to pay for online classes.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer