Online Colleges Reap GI Bonanza

“We cannot think first and act afterwards. From the moment of birth we are immersed in action and can only fitfully guide it by taking thought.” – Alfred North Whitehead

The purpose for the post today is the concern – we march on – taking and creating messes whereever we go.

We want immediate gratification and do not think of sustainability of the resources in present time or the future. Have we not had enough of this greed recently?

I guess not…and it makes me sad that we waste so much when we have systemic issues in our Education system that need to be addressed. The largest issue we will continue to face is in our demographics over the next 2, 5, and 10+ years is the continual chasm between the have and the have nots…(In my opinion, the focus is truly not going to be on racism worldwide) yet on the discrimination that occurs in the different levels within classes of people between the have and have-nots.

One example of this is how this selection process manifests in the workplace between the A, B, C players – one could hypothesize that it begins in the classrooms with the A, B, C players. You can see how arbitrarily these children are being cast in these levels and how these ‘levels’ and pay scales can follow these people the rest of their lives. (See the movie, Waiting for Superman). Waiting for Supernam is a documentary of our school systems in the U.S. and how we are failing our children and why we cannot compete worldwide. There was a mention of the children in the movie in this past Sunday’s N&O Parade (12/12/10). There is also a book available. BY ERIC LIPTON – New York Times December 10, 2010 WASHINGTON — When Congress moved in 2008 to sweeten tuition payments for veterans, it was celebrated as a way to ensure that military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could go to college at no cost and to replicate the historic benefits society gained from the GI Bill after World War II.

Now, a year after payouts on the Post-9-11 GI Bill started, the huge program has turned into a bonanza of another kind for the many commercial colleges in the U.S. that have seen military revenues surge. More than 36 percent of the tuition payments made in the first year of the program – a total of $640 million in tuition and fees – went to for-profit colleges, like the University of Phoenix, according to data compiled by the Department of Veterans Affairs, even though these colleges serve only about 9 percent of the overall population at higher education institutions.

The money flows to the for-profit university industry,questions are being raised in Congress and elsewhere about their recruitment practices, and whether they really deliver on their education promises. Some members say they want to place tighter limits on how much these colleges can collect in military benefits, a move certain federal officials say they would welcome. These questions come as the for-profit education industry is under increased scrutiny, with the Department of Education proposing regulations that would cut off federal aid to colleges whose graduates have extremely low loan repayment rates.

Amid this debate, the industry’s powerful lobbying forces are pushing for even more, including a change in the law that would allow veterans who sign up exclusively for online classes to also get government housing subsidies, even if they live at home, which could make online education even more attractive.

With their multimillion-dollar advertising and recruitment campaigns, these colleges have pitched themselves as a natural choice for veterans and active-duty personnel, given their extensive online class offerings, accelerated degree programs and campuses spread across the nation, including near many military bases. “We offer the flexibility and career focus they want,” said Bob Larned, the executive director of military education at ECPI College of Technology, a Virginia institution with a major online program and campuses in Raleigh, Charlotte and elsewhere in the Carolinas that collected $16 million in GI Bill benefits in the first year.

Active-duty personnel are eligible for free tuition, which explains why the for-profit colleges have received about $200 million in Department of Defense tuition reimbursement benefits and fees in the past year, mostly for online classes, in addition to money collected from the GI Bill.

But high dropout rates at some of these colleges, difficulty in transferring credits, higher tuition bills than at public colleges and skepticism from some employers about the value of the degrees are all creating unease among some in Congress. Robert Songer, a retired Marine colonel who is the lead education adviser at Camp Lejeune, said some of the for-profit colleges hounded active-duty personnel there.

“They are very easy targets, especially because many of them have never had anyone in their families go to college,” Songer said. “All they hear from these schools is, ‘This won’t cost you a thing.'”

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About Linda Savanauskas

An accomplished talent management professional with experience in curriculum design, development of learning strategies, and professional skills development training programs for the workplace. Collaboration in training programs includes small and medium size businesses (SMB) to larger organizations from Raleigh to Charlotte, North Carolina. Virtual instructor led training can be offered to any location.