What the GI Bill Buys

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The GI Bill is now looking pretty good. Once the Department of Veterans Affairs got that whole benefits processing thing down, the GI Bill started to look like an effective government program again.

Well, effective in a way. Guess where most of that government money is going? According to an article by Daniel Golden and John Lauerman in Bloomberg News:

Boosted by a GI Bill with more-generous benefits, U.S. spending on veterans’ education will more than double to $9.5 billion this year…. Six for-profit colleges had more students receiving VA funding in 2009 than any public or nonprofit institutions, statistics provided by the department show. Eight of the top 10 colleges with the most VA- funded students were for-profit institutions.

The five companies operating those six (mostly online) colleges were the Apollo Group, American Public Education, Inc. (despite its name, it’s a for-profit company), the Career Education Corporation, Kaplan, Inc., and Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

According to the article, “the VA doesn’t have any information on graduation rates or job placements of veterans who use its benefits to pay for college.”

An earlier article by Daniel Golden, however, indicated that employers were often very reluctant to hire veterans for substantive positions if they earned online degrees. As an executive from security company explained, if he has two candidates and “one has a degree from a real college, one has a degree from a computer, I’m going to favor the one from the live college.” [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer