By Debbie Gregory.
A number of for-profit colleges have been characterized as preying on those seeing to use their veteran education benefits. These schools are often guilty of inflated job promises and under-delivering on education. With more than 1 million veterans and their families taking advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend college, are for-profit school the best choice?
It’s no secret that the for-profit sector has aggressively aimed its marketing to members of the military. A 2014 Senate report found that eight for-profit college companies received $2.9 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill veteran benefits, approximately one quarter of all the funds spent on GI Bill benefits in 2012-2013.
Further, due to a loophole in current law, veteran education students are unusually attractive to for-profit colleges. First, veterans eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits offer for-profit colleges a guaranteed stream of federal revenue but, unlike the students attending the colleges with federal student loans, do not present a risk of subsequent default.
In addition, the Higher Education Act requires that all proprietary (for-profit) colleges demonstrate compliance with the “90/10 rule” meaning that at least ten percent of revenues must come from sources other than federal financial aid funds authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act. However, as currently written, federal military educational benefits including Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are not counted as federal financial aid and in fact are counted on the “10” side of the revenue calculation.
What makes for-profit schools so attractive to this audience, given the fact that on average, for-profit schools cost twice as much as educating veterans at public colleges?
First off, as previously stated, for-profit schools are the ones targeting and courting these potential students. They make for easy acceptance and easy enrollment in order to cash in on veteran resources.
Traditional colleges and universities should be doing much more to reach out to help those who served reach their education goals. These nontraditional students often come out of the military with unique skill sets. These schools need to let veterans know that they are not only welcome, but they are accepted and valued. Becoming a “Veteran Friendly” or Yellow Ribbon School would go a long way to that end.
Also, transition resources should focus on giving advice to those who want to further their education. Providing more guidance and knowledge on how to make that transition is crucial: when to apply; what kind of credentials schools are looking for; how to package yourself as an applicant. If a veteran needs to beef up their academic credentials, then attending a community college is a great alternative.
The bottom line is that not-for-profit schools need to market their veteran education value. In the long run, it will greatly benefit the schools , the veterans, and the tax payers.