One of America’s veterans’ organizations says that some 40 for-profit colleges created fake veterans groups in order to attract federal dollars designated for military education.

According to an article by Leo Shane in Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the United States Armed Forces:

Student Veterans of America has shut down chapters at 40 for-profit colleges after discovering that many of the groups were memberless fronts used to promote the schools as “veteran friendly.”

Numerous chapters were founded with a faculty member as the main point of contact, he said, instead of a student veteran. Those chapters were found to have no actual student members, and the SVA brand was being used by the schools’ marketing departments in recruiting efforts.

SVA has apparently refused to release a list of the institutions sanctioned.

Steve Gunderson, the president of the government relations umbrella group for for-profit colleges in the United States, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, apparently told Shane that he wasn’t aware of the problem:

“Obviously, we take our commitments to and our service for veterans very seriously,” he said. “Once we learn of the specific schools, we will reach out to them to determine if there are misunderstandings or problems that can be resolved.”

It’s unlikely it was a “misunderstanding,” however. While many, many troops and veterans are enrolled in for-profit colleges, such institutions have an interest in creating SVA chapters, or the appearance of them, because such chapters make them appear to be “military friendly” schools.

The “military friendly” label is crucial because it’s a characteristic military members seek out when deciding where to spend their taxpayer-funded education benefits.

Since 2008, for-profit colleges have seen a 600 percent increase in income derived from military education programs. [Image via]

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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