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The University of Phoenix has received more GI Bill funding than any other higher education institution, USA Today reported Wednesday.
Between 2013 and 2021, the Department of Veterans Affairs gave the for-profit institution $1.6 billion in funds for students who enrolled in online or in-person classes.
While the University of Phoenix remains among the top recipients of GI Bill funds, its annual cut has shrunk, from $391 million in fiscal year 2013–14 to $73 million in 2020–21. In 2021–22, the total fell to $69 million, which was still more than any other institution received—even though it ranked fifth for the number of GI Bill students enrolled, according to USA Today.
Seven of the top 10 recipients of GI Bill funding are for-profits, two are private and one is a public university, the newspaper reported.
“These large for-profit college chains have massive recruiting efforts focused on veterans,” Carrie Wofford, president of the advocacy group Veterans Education Success, told USA Today. “They hire lots of salesmen and hold lots of events on military bases in order to target the GI Bill money, which these companies call a ‘gravy train,’ as one whistle-blower told the Senate.”
The University of Phoenix, like other large for-profit institutions, specializes in online learning, which the VA favors because it makes education accessible to more students.
“This may be a more important determinant than profit status for the amounts of benefits paid,” VA spokesperson Gina Jackson told USA Today.
The University of Phoenix has come under fire from the federal government in the past for defying bans on recruiting on military bases and misleading students about job prospects.
It is presently considering a potential acquisition by the University of Arkansas System, which would give the University of Phoenix nonprofit status, thereby reducing the extent of its federal oversight. (This paragraph has been updated to reflect the correct name of the potential merger partner.)