Federal Government Once Again Is Cracking Down on For-Profit Schools

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The Federal Trade Commission recently announced that it is sending notice-of-penalty offenses to 70 for-profit schools that may be violating federal law.

The agency says that for-profit schools sometimes use exaggerated or false promises about their schools and education programs to attract new students and their money. In an attempt to end these illegal practices, the agency is putting 70 of the largest for-profit schools on notice that they are being monitored closely by the government.

Post-9/11 GI Bill veterans enrolled in for-profit schools used $1.2 billion in taxpayer money in FY 2020, compared to the $2.9 billion used for those attending nonprofit and public schools. For-profit schools often offer technical degrees that can lead to high-paying civilian jobs when added to one's military training and skills, and many offer fast-track and employment oriented training.

While the FTC warning does not accuse these schools of illegal practices, the agency says that placing them on a list of notice-of-penalty offenses serves to notify schools that some of the practices in which they have engaged, while not illegal, are unfair or deceptive.

In recent years, for-profit schools have paid hefty penalties. The University of Phoenix agreed to a record $191 million judgment to settle the FTC's charges of deceptive advertising, and DeVry University paid $100 million to settle charges it misrepresented the employment chances and earning ability of its graduates. The schools did not admit to any wrongdoing.

Related: VA Issues Warning on DeVry University

The FTC also cited an example where the agency filed a case against the now-shuttered Career Education Corporation ("CEC"), charging it with recruiting prospective students by using marketers who falsely claimed to be affiliated with the U.S. military.

In prior years, government agencies have taken extreme actions, including closing down some for-profit schools that participated in wrongful recruiting practices.

See: ITT Tech Latest To Come Under Government Scrutiny

See: Senators Ask VA to Help Veterans Affected By School Closure

If you are thinking of using your GI Bill for school, you can visit the VA's website and their School Comparison Tool to see details on which schools are approved for GI Bill benefits, as well as view any student complaints on file for that school.

The Department of Education's College Scorecard and College Navigator also can help you find reputable schools that offer the training programs in which you are interested.

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Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, Military.com can help. Subscribe to Military.com to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.

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