Quality of vet education, for-profit college controversy could be clarified by new data

Career College Central Summary:

  • After years of claims — backed up by little hard data — that some schools have been providing current and former service members poor educations for their education benefits, federal officials may be on the verge of coming out with information that could help distinguish the good schools from the bad.
  • Curtis Coy, a deputy undersecretary with the Veterans Affairs Department, said his agency could release school-by-school, veteran-specific data on a host of academic success and outcome measures as soon as January.
  • The Defense Department also plans to come out with similar information next year.
  • This type of data has been long-awaited and could make it easier for current and former troops to figure out which schools provide the best values for their benefits — but difficult questions remain about how that equation should be calculated, and some schools are expressing skepticism about the approach.
  • "We want to try and be as transparent as possible, with people seeing the data with all the footnotes that go with it," Coy said.
  • "I would ask that folks be patient. This is going to be an iterative and growing process that has never, quite frankly, ever been done."
  • The Education Department collects enormous amounts of data on institutions of higher learning and their traditional student populations. But the key measures for student success, which track how well colleges and universities get their students to stay in school and graduate, provide no information specifically to military and veteran students.
  • In fact, those measures often completely ignore service members, veterans and anyone else who doesn't fit the mold of the traditional, full-time college freshman.
  • Going to school part time using military tuition assistance? Starting school as a vet with a bunch of credit hours already earned while in uniform? Transferring from one college to another?
  • If so, you're never counted in the first-time, full-time student category that the Education Department stats track.
  • The resulting lack of information has been particularly problematic as some lawmakers and federal officials have leveled charges that for-profit schools have been taking advantage of troops and vets by sucking up their education benefits while offering little in return.
  • But without hard data, critics have been unable to substantially document the problems at bad schools — while good schools have been unable to defend themselves.
  • That has left military and vet students to guess which camp any particular school might fall into.

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