Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, testified Wednesday before a Senate hearing entitled “Preventing Abuse of the Military's Tuition Assistance Program.” In addition to responding to a new Government Accountability Office report that calls on the Defense Department to increase oversight of institutions receiving military aid dollars, Harkin cited his December report on for-profit colleges to express his concern about the growing amount of funds going to service members at career colleges.
Advocates of for-profit institutions, however, continued to question his report’s findings. Harris Miller, president of the Association of Private Sector College and Universities, wrote in a statement after the hearing: “[For-profit institution] enrollments of military personnel and veterans are not skyrocketing, nor are our schools ‘targeting’ service members or veterans. Students with a military background select our schools because [for-profit institutions] offer a ‘no-frills’ approach to a quality higher education. These are individuals who want to get their programs, to gain bankable skills and to get on with life. Demand for private sector colleges and universities by members of the military has grown because of flexible and accelerated schedules, targeted programs, and a focus on educating adults for specific careers.”