The Art Institute of Seattle Is the State's Second-Largest Recipient of GI Bill Money

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Watchdog nonprofit ProPublica recently released a list of the past year's top 500 recipients of post-9/11 GI Bill money. So where are Washington's military members matriculating? The University of Washington is the state's unsurprising clubhouse leader. But running right behind the Northwest's largest university is the relatively small Art Institute of Seattle, which got more than $2.5 million in federal funds even as the for-profit industry of which it's a member has come under increased scrutiny from the federal government.

In September, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin released a scathing report on the for-profit world entitled "Debt Without a Diploma." In it, he took the industry to task for its aggressive marketing tactics, high drop-out rates and the large debt burden borne by many of its former students.

"The farther we take this investigation, the clearer it becomes that many for-profit colleges view students as no more than cogs in the profit-making machine, with little concern for their education or success," said Harkin.

In a review of 14 of some of the largest for-profit schools, Harkin's report found that federal dollars accounted for nearly all of their revenue, leading him to write that "these 'profits' are largely made up of taxpayer dollars." A criticism reflected in the fact that the soldiers choosing to attend AIS use more GI dollars per year (over $14,000) than their counterparts at U-Dub (just over $8,000).

Perhaps because of the broad brush with which Harkin painted all for-profits, AIS was reluctant to talk about whether its rolls were significantly increased thanks to the GI Bill or how many of those military students remained enrolled at the college. "We just don't comment on that kind of stuff," communications director Mark Livingston told Seattle Weekly.

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