The Post-9/11 GI Bill, For-Profit Colleges, and Value

By Alex Horton

We’ve been following the ongoing situation that has coalesced around the Post-9/11 GI Bill, for-profit schools, and the value they offer. While we’re not in the business of telling Veterans where they should use their benefits, it’s important for them to be as informed as possible. That’s why we’ve provided a guide for Veterans to choose the right school for them. This is a big decision for any Veteran, and the choice of an institution should be made only after considering transfer of credit policies, graduation rates, and a prospective school’s reputation. No Vet should be swayed by slick marketing that sells a false promise of military and Veteran friendliness or guaranteed job placement.

While there are for-profit schools that may offer a quality education with a flexible schedule, there is troubling evidence that suggests some schools target Veterans for their generous education benefits, exploiting a loophole designed to limit the amount of federal money they receive. Therefore, this has led to the following today from the Department:

Statement from the Department of Veterans Affairs on Use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill by For-Profit Schools

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) believes Veteran-students should be able to use their earned Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at the institution which best meets their specific needs. It is important to protect Veterans and ensure they are armed with enough information to make the right choice and prevent profit-driven institutions from taking advantage of them solely for their GI Bill benefits—without providing a quality education in return. Veterans should not be aggressively recruited by institutions principally because of financial motives. The primary objective of the Post-9/11 GI Bill is to equip Veterans with the education and training they need to find a high quality job and succeed in the workforce.

While VA defers to the Department of Education on the 90/10 calculation, there is an argument for including the Post-9/11 GI Bill in the 90 percent limit on Federal funding or related proposals. Under the present structure, some institutions may be targeting Veterans because the Federal education benefits they receive are treated the same way as private funds in the 90/10 calculation.

Modifications to the 90/10 rule could provide additional tools to assist in this area. However, it is understood that such a change could cause some schools to exceed the 90 percent threshold and be at risk of losing eligibility to receive Federal student aid. Therefore, in order to ensure that Veterans are not adversely affected, the manner in which such a change would be implemented is important. VA would welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Department of Education and Congress as it considers changes in this area.

The Department understands the demand, especially among Veterans, for non-traditional forms of education. But we also believe that protecting the rights of those who’ve served in uniform—by ensuring their chosen schools intend to offer them the best education possible—is of the highest importance.

Changing the 90/10 rule would greatly reduce the financial benefit of schools that target Veterans solely for their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. And it would signal to universities everywhere that the quality of education Veterans need after service is a very serious concern to the nation. Veterans sacrifice for benefits like the GI Bill. And this is an opportunity for us to ensure they’re getting a quality education in return.

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