For Immediate Release           

Contact Walter Ochinko

May 25, 2021                                                   

Veterans Education Success Releases Analysis of How the Defense Department’s Tuition Assistance Funds are Spent 

For-profit colleges enrolled fewer servicemembers but received more TA revenue and one for-profit school received almost 20 percent of all TA revenue.

Six of the 10 for-profit schools receiving the most TA revenue in FY 2019 settled with state or federal authorities primarily for misleading advertising or aggressive recruiting tactics. 

WASHINGTON, DC — Veterans Education Success today released the findings of its analysis of how the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Tuition Assistance Program (TA) was spent in FY 2019 on the nearly 250,000 servicemembers who participate in TA. The TA program allows eligible servicemembers to take postsecondary classes on a part-time basis during off-duty hours at one of 1,808 participating schools. The analysis breaks down data by enrollment, credentials earned, and institutional sector.

Also today, the Defense Department issued a notice that it is finalizing a Trump Administration regulatory change to rescind the rule that bans a school’s access to a military base unless it has at least 20 servicemembers enrolled in classes. “Today’s regulatory announcement is bad news for servicemembers,” said Walter Ochinko, Research Director at Veterans Education Success. “We found that six of the 10 for-profit schools receiving the most TA revenue in FY 2019 settled with state or federal authorities, primarily for misleading advertising or aggressive recruiting tactics. Servicemembers deserve to be protected from such abuse on bases.”

To provide context, Veterans Education Success compared changes in overall TA enrollment, expenditures, and credentials awarded since FY 2017. This DOD data is publicly available on the TA DECIDE website, which is intended to help servicemembers make an informed choice about where to use their DOD educational benefits.

Highlights include:

  • Although fewer servicemembers enrolled in the 105 for-profit schools that participate in TA, that sector received more revenue from TA than the 1,145 public institutions that enrolled 16 percent more participants.
  • Credentials awarded to servicemembers by the 10 institutions receiving the most revenue in each sector did not reflect the total number of credentials earned, particularly at nonprofit and public institutions. A significant proportion of credentials awarded by these two sectors were earned at schools other than the 10 highest-TA-revenue institutions. In general, schools with higher enrollment also awarded more credentials.
  •  Nonprofit institutions had the highest rate of successful course completion, while public sector institutions had the lowest average cost per course.
  • The 10 institutions from each sector receiving the most revenue accounted for 76 percent of TA expenditures in FY 2019, but 1 for-profit school alone received almost 20 percent of overall TA payments.
  • Six of the 10 for-profit schools receiving the most TA revenue in FY 2019 settled with state or federal authorities primarily for misleading advertising or aggressive recruiting tactics.

“The Department of Defense needs to pay more attention to the cost and outcomes of using Tuition Assistance to attend schools that may not be delivering any return on investment,” Ochinko adds.“For example, we recently completed a study of servicemember complaints about schools owned by the Career Education Corporation (now known as Perdoceo). Servicemembers using Tuition Assistance alleged that the high cost of credit hours, which was not always disclosed, forced them to take out student loans, use GI Bill benefits, or pay out of pocket. One servicemember alleged that Colorado Technical University made him apply for student loans in case the military didn’t pay. We urge the Defense Department to protect servicemembers from predatory college recruiting and enrollment practices.”

Read the full fact sheet

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Veterans Education Success works on a bipartisan basis to advance higher education success for veterans, service members, and military families, and to protect the integrity and promise of the GI Bill® and other federal postsecondary education programs. The organization offers free help to veterans, their survivors, and families who faced college fraud or have questions using their veteran and military education benefits. We also help veterans participate in their democracy by engaging Congressional representatives, and conduct non-partisan research on issues of concern to student veterans, including student outcomes and debt levels. Additional information is available at