For-Profits and Military Money

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department should increase its oversight of institutions receiving Tuition Assistance Program funds to prevent potential waste and abuse, a new Government Accountability Office report finds.

The tuition program provides money to active duty military personnel who want to attend college while serving, either via distance education or at installations on military bases. In the 2009 fiscal year, more than 376,000 servicemen and women participated in the program, receiving more than $517 million in tuition assistance. In recent months, Democratic senators have spotlighted allegations that several for-profit colleges are abusing this program, especially in how they recruit military personnel.

Released Tuesday, in advance of today’s Senate hearing entitled "Preventing Abuse of the Military’s Tuition Assistance Program." the GAO report concludes that the Defense Department does not focus its oversight efforts on institutions at which there may be an increased risk for problems, has little accountability in its education quality review process, and lacks a centralized system to track complaints.

Additionally, the report notes that the Defense Department reviewed academic courses and services provided only by institutions offering traditional classroom instruction at military installations, and did not review distance education courses, which accounted for 71 percent of courses taken by beneficiaries in fiscal 2009.

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