The U.S. House on Friday approved the National Defense Authorization Act with an amendment that would require the Pentagon to more closely scrutinize some for-profit colleges that enroll servicemembers, reported Politico.
The House legislation would mandate a Department of Defense (DoD) audit of for-profit institutions that fail the Education Department's financial responsibility standards. The provision would also require the DoD to publish an annual list showing how much funding each college receives through the agency's Tuition Assistance program.
The amendment, offered by Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL), drew support from all Democrats and 20 Republicans. Rep. Shalala, a former secretary of health and human services and president of the University of Miami, has been an outspoken critic of the for-profit sector since she was elected to Congress last year.
The Senate-passed version of the defense bill does not include a similar provision, so the amendment will be debated by a conference committee in the coming weeks amid a slew of more high-profile and contentious fights over military spending and foreign policy issues, Politico reported.
Meanwhile, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee held a hearing on Wednesday to consider draft legislation from Chairman Mark Takano (D-CA), reported Politico.
The proposed bill would impose new restrictions on how for-profit colleges access GI Bill benefits, cutting off funds to institutions that fail to meet the federal 90/10 rule with the inclusion of all federal funding sources. The legislation is similar to other Democratic efforts to tighten the law, but it does not seek to change the rule in the Higher Education Act directly. Instead, the measure would expand the calculation of funding sources to include veterans and military service education benefits as a condition of for-profit colleges receiving GI Bill funds. The bill is backed by several veterans groups that also testified at the hearing, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Veterans Education Success, Politico reported.
The committee also considered measures to expand veterans housing allowances for online-only classes, expand the amount of GI Bill benefits that veterans have restored when their colleges suddenly close, and mandate colleges receiving GI Bill benefits adopt the Obama-era Principles of Excellence standards—which are currently voluntary.