Durbin: Defense Department Needs Plan To Ensure Quality In Tuition Assistance Program

Senator praises Department?s decision to scrap ineffective system of accountability and calls for new plan to keep for-profit colleges from preying on members of the Armed Forces

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today vowed to continue his efforts to stand up for members of America’s Armed Forces by stopping the predatory tactics of for-profit colleges that are more interested in receiving federal funding than providing an education.

At a June 12, 2013 hearing, Durbin raised serious concerns that the Defense Department’s had little or no ability to effectively asses the quality of schools participating in the Department’s Tuition Assistance program.  Today, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report requested by Durbin revealed that the Department of Defense agreed with Durbin’s assessment.  They discontinued the previous contract and have begun strengthening oversight to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being wasted on for-profit colleges with questionable results that charge considerably more than public and private institutions.


“This report validates the concerns I raised during last year’s oversight hearing on the Defense Department’s Tuition Assistance program,” said Durbin.  “I am glad the Department has taken action and agrees a plan is necessary, but more needs to be done, and quickly, to stop these predatory for-profit schools from sucking federal funds from this program and leaving members of our military with little education to show for it.   I will continue my efforts to protect our troops and their families from these shameful, predatory schools looking for a quick buck.” 


In FY2013, the Defense Department spent $540 million on Tuition Assistance.  While for-profit schools are a minority of the institutions involved in the Tuition Assistance program, they take in a disproportionate share of Tuition Assistance funding.  A Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee investigation found that 41% of Tuition Assistance in FY2011 went to just six for-profit colleges: American Public Education, Inc. which includes American Military University; Bridgepoint Education, Inc.; TUI Learning LLC; Apollo Group Inc.; Columbia Southern University; and Grantham University.