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About ten months ago I wrote an article about the abuse of veterans and the GI Bill on the part of some for-profit, on-line colleges and universities. I wrote it after seeing a PBS Frontline program that had done some in-depth investigation on these "diploma mills." I was disturbed enough about the problem that I wrote the article for TheVeteransSite.com (Notes from a Veteran: July 12, 2011).
It seems that the Obama Administration has seen that this is a major issue and that far too many veterans have been cajoled by these for-profit schools to spend their GI Bill money at their online institutions. Frontline reported that as much as a third of GI Bill payments were going to these places and that these universities were not providing even basic support systems to the veterans who might be having problems with certain classes. It also reported that these online schools have grown by 600% over the last few years.
It was good to hear that on Friday, April 27, 2012, President Obama signed an executive order promoting measures to safeguard veterans and members of the military against unscrupulous college recruiters. These recruiters have been extremely aggressive, both on-line and on military bases, signing up active duty and veteran military. Everything in the job market today argues that a college degree is absolutely necessary for higher-paying work opportunities. These online, for-profit schools’ very aggressive advertising makes it look hassle-free to get a degree.
Many of them, though, have not really been as interested in serving the GI Bill community as they have been in getting the benefit of the huge amount of money that is available in the GI Bill system. It is high time, then, that the government does something to protect our active duty and veteran military members and their families, as well as the precious funds that the GI Bill makes available for them to truly get a real education from a creditable institution.
According to Frontline, the graduation rate from these for-profit colleges is only 28%. That is extremely low. It also pointed out that graduates from these colleges earn 12-15% less than those who graduate from state schools. Worse yet, Human Resource Officers around the country do not respect these degrees from these for-profit institutions.
If you know current active duty men and women, or a recent a veteran who is hoping to go on to college, advise them to be very careful about these online for-profit schools. Tell them to use their GI Bill benefits wisely.