Federal officials attempt crackdown on for-profit colleges

The Georgia National Guard, the State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies surrounded the Georgia Capitol building again on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, with military equipment. Federal education officials are proposing new regulations to crack down on for-profit colleges they say recruit veterans with deceptive claims about degrees and job placement. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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The Georgia National Guard, the State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies surrounded the Georgia Capitol building again on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, with military equipment. Federal education officials are proposing new regulations to crack down on for-profit colleges they say recruit veterans with deceptive claims about degrees and job placement. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Education Department leaders say schools recruit veterans with deceptive promises

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced its latest effort to crack down on for-profit colleges and universities they say are conducting dubious practices to recruit military veterans and service members as students.

U.S. Department of Education officials released proposed regulations that would adjust how private for-profit institutions determine at least 10% of their revenue doesn’t include federal aid. They would no longer be able to include aid for veterans or service members.

Veterans and their families say some for-profit schools recruit students with false promises that they help them get high-paying jobs. However, the average graduation rate for veterans who used Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at for-profit schools was about 22%, according to a federal study released in 2019. The average six-year graduation rate nationwide for college students is about 60%.

“These proposed regulations enact welcome changes by Congress to better protect students who have served, and continue to serve, our nation,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “These rules will also ensure that efforts by for-profit colleges to convert to nonprofit status are genuine changes, not mere ploys to evade accountability to students and taxpayers.”

There are about 1,000 degree-granting for-profit colleges and universities nationwide, according to the federal government.

Career Education Colleges and Universities, a national association serving for-profit schools, called the proposed changes “misguided policy.”

“We look forward to working with the Department to implement the rule so that it is fair for both students and institutions,” CECU’s president and CEO Jason Altmire said in a statement.