By Debbie Gregory.
Currently, over a million Veteran students are using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to complete their academic goals and prepare for successful careers. Thousands of Veterans are also currently using other Veteran education benefits. Most Veterans have no issues applying for, obtaining, and using their VA education benefits. But there are thousands of Veteran students who have found obstacles along the way that impede their pathway to success.
There is a reason why schools have to be approved by the VA in order for you to use your benefits there. With the increasing number of Veterans arriving at college campuses across the country, there are institutions that seek to profit from them, offering Veterans very little, in the way of education, for their benefits.
That is why the VA has established the Principles of Excellence program. The schools in this program are schools that:
- Provide students with a personalized form, covering the total cost of an education program
- Provide educational plans for all military and Veteran education beneficiaries
- End fraudulent and aggressive recruiting techniques and misrepresentations
- Accommodate Service members and Reservists absent due to service requirements
- Designate a point of contact to provide academic and financial advice
- Ensure accreditation of all programs prior to enrolling students
- Align institutional refund policies with those under Title IV, which govern the administration of federal student financial aid programs
Schools that are recognized by the VA as a Principles of Excellence institution offer extra personal incentive for Veteran students to attend there. Most Veteran students will find it easier to enroll and attend a school where there are fewer hassles in the process. Schools in the program have created a proven history of providing for the Veteran students who enroll there.
Veterans who are researching schools to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill can research their institutions by using the VA’s GI Bill Comparison Tool. This extremely useful resource will allow Veterans to input their benefit and desired school and see the amount of tuition the school charges, monthly housing allowance for the school’s zip code, and the amount of book stipend the Vet is entitled to. The Comparison Tool also informs the Veteran if the school participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and the Principles of Excellence Program and how many Veteran students are currently enrolled there.
Veterans who are looking to go back to school, should be sure to utilize the VA’s GI Bill Comparison tool. They certainly should take into particular consideration the tuition and monthly cost. But Veterans should also include in their decision whether or not the school is a member of the Principles of Excellence program and how many Veterans attend their school. It would be a shame to enroll in a school, only to find that you have little to no support as a Veteran using the GI Bill.