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Since 2009, $260 million U.S. tax dollars have been spent on unaccredited schools, thanks to a loophole in the GI Bill.

From Reveal:

Iraq War veteran David Rodriguez steps into a softly lit classroom at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, crosses his legs and sits on a pillow in front of an altar decorated with a rope, a model of a penis and a statue of a Hindu god…Rodriguez is funding his studies with the GI Bill, which means taxpayers are covering his tuition to pursue a doctorate in human sexuality – more than $20,000 over the past two years…Opinions may differ about whether Rodriguez’s degree is more or less valuable than other academic pursuits. But one thing is clear: His school does not meet the minimum standards that the U.S. Department of Education requires for receipt of other federal funds.

The institute is eligible to receive money directly from the U.S. Treasury because the GI Bill does not require schools to be accredited – a formal process that typically includes extensive site visits and audits by an independent organization charged with upholding academic standards.

The loophole was created to allow veterans to attend trade schools as they transition from military to civilian life. These include places that offer training in welding and construction, for instance.

But in the absence of strong government oversight, Reveal has found a gold rush of 2,000 schools cashing in on the exemption. The list includes schools set up to make a profit by teaching blackjack, scuba diving, dog grooming, taxidermy and yoga. Many are owned by individuals who’ve gone bankrupt or failed to pay their taxes. A handful are owned by convicted felons.

Read more here.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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