By Debbie Gregory.
The GI Bill program provides the most generous school benefits paid to veteranss since the original bill was enacted in 1944. But many veteran students are getting off to a rocky start when it came to pursuing a college degree.
For-profit colleges have been popular among veterans, in part, because of offerings in skilled trades and flexibility such as online classes. But many of these schools have been called out for their treatment of veteran and active-duty military students, as well as their aggressive recruiting tactics.
The for-profit sector has among the highest student loan default rates and lowest graduation rates in higher education.
So for potential veteran students, there are three steps you should take when considering a for-profit school:
Make use of the GI Bill Comparison Tool: Veterans and active-duty military looking to understand how their benefits will apply to college costs can plug their information into the GI Bill Comparison Tool.
The GI Bill Comparison will let the student know if their potential college, university or vocational is a for-profit, public or private university, how much it costs, whether it meets the required guidelines to receive federal funding, how many GI Bill students there are, whether there is a student veteran group, a VetSuccess on campus, etc. For students worried about predatory practices at an institution, the school summary page includes the number of complaints against the institution and “caution flags,” which indicate that the school is under increased regulatory or legal scrutiny.
Be vigilant when it comes to any paperwork related to education benefits and any other financial aid. If something is promised, get it in writing. Be sure to know the different funding options, and what is a gift, and what is a loan.
Ask, ask ask! Don’t be shy to ask what percentage of their students find jobs in their chosen fields, if your units will transfer, what resources are available to veteran students, etc.
Your GI Bill benefits are just that; YOURS. Make sure you get the most out of the benefit that you worked so hard and risked so much to secure.