WFTV ORLANDO: Channel 9 Investigates veterans, the GI bill and for-profit colleges

Career College Central Summary:

  • It started as a way to help veterens re-enter the civilian workforce after World War II by providing low-interest loans and tuition assistance. Sixty-four years after it was first implemented, the GI bill underwent a major transformation, expanding to pay for even more of the cost of education. Now, the money designed to help vets with college is at the center of investigations at the state and federal level.
  •  Seminole County mother of two Noelle Hickey spent eight years in the Navy. Hickey, who wants to be a nurse, says as she was preparing to separate from the service she was flooded with offers from schools, including dozens of for-profit universities.
  •  “They didn’t know what I did so I don’t know why they still targeting me, but somehow they knew I was military,” said Hickey.
  • Aggressive marketing is just one of the many charges leveled against the for-profit college industry.  A July 2012 U.S. Senate report found, “… billions of taxpayer dollars spent on aggressive marketing and advertising.”
  • Two years after the initial report by the Senate Committee on Health, Labor, Pensions, and Education outlined abuses by the for-profit college industry, a new report by the same committee disclosed, “… top eight for-profit colleges received $2.9 billion in post-9/11 G.I. Bill funds between 2009 and 2014 and nearly 25 percent of all post-9/11 GI Bill funds in 2013.”
  • The Senate estimates it costs a veteran an additional $4,000 to attend a for-profit college.   
  • “This is a problem, not just with veterans,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D – Florida).  “These for-profit colleges have in some cases have fleeced their customers.”
  • In the wake of the Senate report, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued for-profit college chain Corinthian Colleges, accusing it of an illegal predatory lending scheme. 
  • At the time of the suit Corinthian Colleges owned four campuses in central Florida, including two in Orlando operating as Everest University.  In a deal with the Department of Education (who?) agreed to sell off many of its campuses and close others. 
  • Earlier this year the Everest locations in central Florida were sold to Zenith Education Group. Zenith said it is transforming the schools from for-profit to nonprofit. In addition, Zenith said it is working with the Veterans Administration to provide better educational opportunities for vets, as well as lowering tuition and offering an estimated $480 million in loan forgiveness.

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