One of the most successful programs our country ever created was the G.I. Bill, enabling military veterans the ability to go to college, something we owed to those who sacrificed so much for our freedom. So now when we hear that veterans groups are lining up against the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508), an attempt to shake-up the Higher Education Act of 1965, it’s worth listening to them.
In the Inside Higher Ed article “Veterans Blast GOP Bill as Giveaway to For-Profits,” Andrew Kreighbaum writes “ [O]rganizations are lining up to oppose House legislation to reauthorize the law governing federal student aid, college accountability and many other aspects of higher ed. The bill, they argue, is a giveaway to predatory programs. These groups said the legislation would make veterans more vulnerable than ever to for-profit colleges of questionable quality.” And these groups range from the American Legion to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Research by The Chicago Tribune show that for-profit schools have default rates more than seven times that of the non-profit private institutions. This shows that private education can and does work in America, and veterans should be allowed to go to those small liberal arts colleges, where the hands-on experience and low student-to-faculty ratio are idea for them.
In fact, I’ve had the privilege of teaching several, who bring a real-world experience to my classes, filling in details for my terrorism classes, international politics, and conflict courses. Just the other week, when a veteran of the War in Afghanistan was part of our presentation in Mobile, Alabama on groups and strategies, his discussion of the Northern Alliance and first hand encounters had the audience of professors and graduate students paying close attention.
Some vets are liberal, but most others are decidedly more conservative. They tell me they appreciate my efforts to offer balanced courses, and like the focus on evidence-based research and statistics. And they provide a work ethic that’s a good lesson for our students.
But what they don’t want is a watered-down education, having to pay a lot for a little. And they’re not alone. Law enforcement has taken a skeptical look at the PROSPER Act as well.
“A bipartisan group of 30 attorneys general signed on to a letter Thursday opposing House legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act over a provision that would bar states from regulating student loan servicers,” writes Kreighbaum in another article, titled “AGs Oppose PROSPER Act Over Ban On State Oversight Of Loan Servicers.”
They responded harshly to a notice from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that only the national government can regulate loan servicing companies. “At a time when millions of Americans are struggling with student debt, we need more cops on the beat — not fewer,” wrote one Attorney General.
Congress has already shown a willingness to work across party lines for reform. Already, Republicans and Democrats have boosted Pell Grants, the National Science Foundation, and preserved the National Endowment for the Humanities, while many of the DeVos initiatives went down to defeat.
Later this month, Lt. General Ronald Burgess and Police Chief Lou Dekmar will be addressing our college students at separate events. We’re listening to the military and law enforcement. It’s time the rest of the country hears what they have to say about the PROSPER Act and attempts to revise the Higher Education Act which has served us so well since 1965.