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Senate Proceeding on May 19th, 2011 :: 7:46:35 to 8:01:30
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Tom Harkin

7:46:31 to 7:46:51( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: iowa, allowing me to interrupt him. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i thank the leader. mr. president, we know that student outcomes for the general population at for-profit schools are pretty dismal.

Tom Harkin

7:46:35 to 8:01:30( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Tom Harkin

Tom Harkin

7:46:52 to 7:47:13( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: on average, 55% of students who attend these schools drop out within a year. and there is no evidence military students are fairing better. eight of the top -- of the ten top recipients of v.a. dollars see more than a half of their associate degree students enrolled drop out within a year. five of the schools see more than a 60% drop.

Tom Harkin

7:47:14 to 7:47:35( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: this is what our investigation revealed. here are the ten schools receiving the most department of veterans affairs funds. you can see i.t., they have got the most. $70.9 million. that's a -- that's a one-year -- that's a one-year amount.

Tom Harkin

7:47:36 to 7:47:56( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: those who enrolled for a four-year degree program, 44% withdrew. those who signed up for a two-year program, 53% withdrew. you can look down here to kaplan. they got $17.3 million. look at this, under bachelor's

Tom Harkin

7:47:57 to 7:48:19( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: degree, 68.2% withdrew. 69% of a -- of the two-year students withdrew. first year, in the first year. now, here's what's startling. that's bad enough as it is, but our investigation showed that neither the department of defense nor the department of

Tom Harkin

7:48:20 to 7:48:40( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: veterans affairs has any method to assess what's happening to these students. they students get high-pressure tactics from the recruiters, these schools. the money flows out and the department -- neither the department of veterans affairs

Tom Harkin

7:48:41 to 7:49:01( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: nor the department of defense has any way to assess whether or not they are getting a good education. i might add neither does the department of education nor does any of the entities that accredit these schools. they have no way of assessing

Tom Harkin

7:49:02 to 7:49:24( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: what's happening to these students. so if you want to know why we need a gainful to finally find out what's happening to some of these students. and i might just add, mr. president, that senator carper has looked into this also in his subcommittee.

Tom Harkin

7:49:25 to 7:49:46( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: he has looked into this. and we have discussed the possibility of looking at something to get the department of defense to start taking better care of their -- of their active duty personnel and the veterans affairs -- veterans affairs department, department of veterans affairs to take

Tom Harkin

7:49:47 to 7:50:08( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: better care of the veterans. we need to have better assessment of what's happening to these students and what's happening to the money and how much debt they're accumulating and what's happening to their education. what we're doing is we're basically handing over huge and growing sums of military money to for-profit schools without

Tom Harkin

7:50:09 to 7:50:29( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: any ability to assess whether these schools are giving our active duty members or veterans any kind of a quality education that they deserved. the complaints i have gathered in the course of our investigation point to a deeply disturbing willingness on the part of for-profit schools to exploit veterans. i want to repeat that.

Tom Harkin

7:50:30 to 7:50:50( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: our investigation shows clearly that a number of these for-profit schools are out to exploit veterans. i received this letter from a veteran who attended i.t.t. technical institute, the biggest receiver of v.a. funds.

Tom Harkin

7:50:51 to 7:51:11( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: here is what he said. he said -- quote -- "unlike other institutions i reached out to, as soon as i expressed interest in i.t.t. tech, they began to actively and aggressively pursue me. minutes after i filled out an online form, a recruiter called me. he then called me every day, telling me it was urgent for me

Tom Harkin

7:51:12 to 7:51:32( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: to enroll. the letter writer notes that due to the high cost of tuition, he had to take out loans, but he writes -- quote -- "the expensive tuition did not seem to go toward a quality education." end quote. he concludes with this. -- quote -- "within two months of leaving i.t.t. tech, they sent me a bill for $2,000 and a

Tom Harkin

7:51:33 to 7:51:54( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: transcript that showed clear signs that it was altered in a way to specifically make my positive balance disappear and create a negative balance." end quote. this letter writer ends with these scwilg words -- quote -- "i regret attending i.t.t. tech. the institution provided at best

Tom Harkin

7:51:55 to 7:52:16( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: an absolute minimum education and left me with nearly insurmountable debt." end quote. this is a veteran. another veteran who attended bridge point education's ashford university wrote the following -- quote -- "i was extremely

Tom Harkin

7:52:17 to 7:52:41( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: disappointed, confused and angry. i felt that i have been misled, deceived or even outright lied to in an effort to gain my contractual agreement." end quote. he was repeatedly assured by bridge point recruiters that his post-9/11 g.i. bill benefits would cover the entire cost of his degree, only to find out after he was enrolled that he

Tom Harkin

7:52:42 to 7:53:02( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: would owe close to $11,000. another student, this one at the university of phoenix, sent this letter to the arizona attorney general after trying to resolve his complaint with the school -- quote -- "i have been a police officer for over 20 years. i am also an iraq war veteran. i believe that the university of

Tom Harkin

7:53:03 to 7:53:23( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: phoenix is using deceptive practices in order to lure students into the school. the enrollment counselors tell students that they should be complete with their course of study in a short period of time, fully knowing exactly how long it's going to take. the enrollment counselors eventually tell the student that

Tom Harkin

7:53:24 to 7:53:44( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: it's going to take a lot longer to finish their program, but not until the student has committed all of his financial aid and invested so much money that it would be senseless to leave and waste his invested time and money." end quote. a letter to the attorney general of arizona. mr. president, what are the

Tom Harkin

7:53:45 to 7:54:05( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: consequences for a student who enrolls at one of these schools but is not satisfied with their experience? well, the post-9/11 g.i. bill benefit package can be depleteed rapidly. if benefits are used up without completing a program or for credits that can't be transferred, the benefits cannot

Tom Harkin

7:54:06 to 7:54:26( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: be recovered. in fact, because of the high tuition, many students, as i pointed out, have to apply for additional grants or loans to pay for schools -- school. that means that many veterans are pressured into signing up for one of these for-profit schools, told that they have all

Tom Harkin

7:54:27 to 7:54:48( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: these benefits, free money to pay for their tuition, they sign them up and then all of a sudden they find that that's not quite enough money. now they have to apply for a loan. and they get a loan. they drop out within a year or so. the schools keep the money, some

Tom Harkin

7:54:49 to 7:55:09( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: of it grant money, some of it loan money, and the g.i. military person is left with a debt and absolutely no diploma. here's a letter addressed to the ohio for-profit school regulator that reads -- and this just

Tom Harkin

7:55:10 to 7:55:31( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: tears your heart out. this is from a mother. "normally, a 26-year-old man doesn't need his mom advocating for him, but this is anything but a normal situation. i expected my son to be changed by his tour of duty in iraq, but i could not have been prepared

Tom Harkin

7:55:32 to 7:55:52( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: for the reality of those changes. my son struggles on a daily basis with symptoms from posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. he suffers from bouts of depression, anxiety, headaches, nightmares, vision problems, mental confusion, insomnia and many other symptoms.

Tom Harkin

7:55:53 to 7:56:14( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: you have to pretty much bottom line your conversations with him. he can't mentally process a lot of details. if you continue with your details, he's done with the conversation unless you can return to a quick bottom line." the mother goes on -- quote --

Tom Harkin

7:56:15 to 7:56:36( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: "it is my belief that the i.t. representative may have quickly figured this out and taken advantage of the opportunity. i rember when he, my son, called from i.t. because i was on my way out to an important occasion. he said the representative told him he needed a co-signer just

Tom Harkin

7:56:37 to 7:56:57( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: so he could start school immediately, but not to worry about it because the military was going to pay for everything, even give him money to live on and pay his expenses. he sounded so hopeful, something i hadn't heard from him since before the war. it was really hard for him to

Tom Harkin

7:56:58 to 7:57:19( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: admit that he couldn't continue going to school. he said he just couldn't retain the material. it became too stressful for him to continue. my son is a proud young man. he's not looking for pity or charity. he is embarrassed that he believed what he was told by the i.t. rep.

Tom Harkin

7:57:20 to 7:57:41( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: he could hardly come around to me when he found out that sallie mae was calling me for payment of his loan." that she had cosigned. veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder commonly isolate themselves from family and friends. this made it even worse.

Tom Harkin

7:57:42 to 7:58:02( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: "as a mother and a human being, i am outraged that this kind of predatory lending tactic is used on anyone, but especially on an american soldier who gave everything he had and almost lost his life many times and who continues to suffer. i will pursue this on my son's

Tom Harkin

7:58:03 to 7:58:23( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: behalf until someone listens and forgives these loans. thank you all for your effort. it is very much appreciated." end quote. so, mr. president, this situation is unacceptable. unacceptable. active duty military personnel

Tom Harkin

7:58:24 to 7:58:44( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: and veterans using their victims of these kind of high pressure tactics of the for-profit schools, enticing them to enroll, taking their money, causing them maybe even to go into further debt, and not giving them any support

Tom Harkin

7:58:45 to 7:59:05( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: whatsoever. as i said before, the agencies distributing this money do not investigate and act on the reported abuses by for-profit schools. they just don't. earlier this month, the g.a.o. released a report concluding that the v.a. still faces numerous challenges in

Tom Harkin

7:59:06 to 7:59:27( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: implementing a program that they wanted to start to begin interventions. mr. president, many for-profit schools have succeeded in building a highly profitable business structure while failing to provide the student services, learning environmental and career services that will enable their students to graduate and

Tom Harkin

7:59:28 to 7:59:49( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: succeed. the federal government must be vigilant to ensure that poor-performing for-profit schools with huge dropout and student default rates are not allowed to continue to receive billions of dollars in federal taxpayer money every year. we owe this to taxpayers, but we also owe this to the men and women who have served and

Tom Harkin

7:59:50 to 8:00:10( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: sacrificed for our nation in uniform. that's why i wanted to take the time on the floor today to point out this new and disturbing finding of our committee, how much these schools are targeting, targeting military personnel. how they're using the

Tom Harkin

8:00:11 to 8:00:33( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: high-pressure tactics to get them to enroll because they know if they get the money, if helps them keep below that 90% level where they can only get 90% from the government, but the military money doesn't count. shameful. it's shameful that these for-profit schools are allowed

Tom Harkin

8:00:34 to 8:00:54( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: to get by with this, and they continue it yet today. continue it, reaping huge profits -- huge profits -- paying their c.e.o.'s and their executives enormous amounts of money, hundreds of millions of dollars every year. and yet, as our men and women in

Tom Harkin

8:00:55 to 8:01:15( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: uniform, our g.i.'s taken in, who aren't provided an help or support, but now are saddled with a lot of debt or they've used up their g.i. bill pweufrs, and maybe -- bill benefits and maybe now they want to go to a community college, somewhere to really get a good education, and now they find out they can't get

Tom Harkin

8:01:16 to 8:01:31( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: any more g.i. bill money. they're done. they gave it all to one of these for-profit schools. mr. president, i'd like to ask unanimous consent to put the documents that i have referenced in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: would the senator

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