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ITT getting big boost from vets

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill was intended to expand educational opportunities for veterans, but it has proven to be a boon to for-profit colleges as well.

A Senate report released this week found that eight of the top 10 recipients of education benefits for veterans in the 2012-13 academic year went to for-profit schools, including Carmel-based ITT Educational Services Inc. The company ranked third in total benefits, collecting $161 million.

In all, about $1.7 billion of the veterans benefits went to for-profit schools, in spite of efforts by the Obama administration to crack down on their questionable recruitment practices and student borrowing. A 90/10 rule limits the proprietary schools from receiving no more than 90 percent of its revenues from federal student loans and grants, but veterans and military tuition programs are excluded from the cap. As a result, the schools actively recruit from the military.

The Senate report notes that taxpayers spend twice as much on average to send a veteran to a for-profit college for a year compared to the cost at a public college or university, an average of $7,972 versus $3,914. At the for-profit colleges collecting the most in benefits, as many as two-thirds of students withdrew before earning a degree or diploma.

ITT had a 95 percent increase in veteran enrollment over three years, according to the report. The college had more than 13,000 veterans enrolled in 2012-13.

Nicole Elam, vice president of government affairs for ITT, said in an email statement that the college “has not taken any steps to increase veteran enrollment from 2009 to 2012” and attributed the 95 percent increase to ITT's “career-focused programs” and student support services. She also defended the college's completion rates, which she said were “twice the average graduation rates of community colleges serving the same demographic.”