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The GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act: How it Helps Veterans

May 23, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

It’s not easy choosing a college when you’re a veteran. As the recipient of GI Bill and Department of Defense tuition assistance dollars, you’re a prime target for unscrupulous organizations looking to get their hands on your tuition assistance money. That’s because GI Bill and other military benefits do not count toward the “90/10” rule that stipulates for-profit universities must receive only 90% of their revenue from federal assistance programs.

As a veteran, you’ll have to sort through a barrage of aggressive solicitations from for-profits—as well as nonprofit colleges. You’ll need to determine on your own which online colleges—both nonprofit and for-profit—are truly dedicated to assisting veterans in furthering their careers, and which will provide you with a questionable degree and an exorbitant amount of student debt.

To ease the challenge, Senator Patty Murray, from Washington, has introduced the G.I. Bill Consumer Awareness Act. This act seeks to make sure veterans have all the information they need to make an informed choice about college.

The bill’s aim is to guarantee that veterans can choose a college with confidence and accurate information—and to curb the tendency that many colleges have to present only the rosiest possible picture regarding their graduation rates, student default rates, and other indicators of graduate success. Information provided under this bill would include how much student loans really cost in terms of interest and fees; realistic transfer possibilities; job-placement rates and wages for graduates; and accurate information about dropout rates for each school. But that’s not all it would offer. Here are a few of the bill’s other provisions:

Military Students

It isn’t easy choosing a college—but this bill would hopefully make it easier.






Accurate disclosure

Schools would be required to disclose accurate information regarding student loan debt statistics; the possibility of transferring credits; the level of preparation you’d get for the workforce with their licensing, certification, and degree programs; and accurate job placement rates. In addition, the VA would provide easily accessible information regarding all schools that are approved for GI Bill tuition assistance. This way, students would be able to assess different college options in a more informed manner.

School staffing

All schools would be required to hire at least one full-time employee who can provide accurate and unbiased advice to veterans regarding their benefits. Schools would also have to provide career placement counseling, academic advisory and tutoring, educational counseling, and referrals to Vet Centers for military students. In addition, schools would be required to encourage faculty members to boost their knowledge of veteran and military issues by offering training for faculty in this area.

Elimination of misleading marketing tactics

Some schools, particularly in the for-profit sector, are notably aggressive in targeting veterans. Under the new law, schools would be banned from disseminating marketing messages that are misleading, and from aggressively targeting veterans and members of the military for recruitment.

It isn’t easy choosing a college—but this bill would hopefully make it easier. Under the GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act, prospective students would not need to depend on the college’s own cherry-picked data to assess their options. Students would also be able to make financial decisions regarding loans and tuition armed with accurate information about how much a loan really costs. In addition, the bill would limit schools’ ability to market in a misleading manner—reducing the confusion of marketing messages for veterans.  The bill is not yet signed into law, but it’s fairly certain that educational prospects for veterans—and their ability to make informed decisions about college—would improve if it were.


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