Want to help vets maximize their GI Bill benefits?

Army of Dude’s Alex Horton, now a blogger for the Department of Veterans Affairs, writes:

Schools will always welcome your dollars, whether you pay them through loans, scholarships or GI Bill tuition. Unfortunately, some schools use aggressive and questionable practices to enroll students and deliberately exaggerate the earning potential of degrees earned. Resources like Payscale can help determine earning power right out of school, and break down how much you stand to make depending on the type of college you attend: public, private, and for-profit. If an enrollment adviser says you will make big money after graduating, think back to the used car lots that litter the roads outside of military bases. They might be selling the equivalent of a car with 200,000 miles for a low interest rate of 18 percent.

And…

Go to Google and search for “GI Bill schools.” The first link you get isn’t a page run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The first result is GIBill.com, and it uses the name of the most recognized public education program in existence to its financial benefit. It appears to be a legitimate site for information, but a cursory search of its privacy policy shows it is owned by an online marketing firm that, according to a major business publication, specializes in directing students to for-profit schools through its page. It’s a questionable marketing strategy that seeks to legitimize a page that serves little purpose other than to funnel student Veterans and convince them their options for education are limited to their advertisers. There are 6,500 schools across the country that allow GI Bill benefits; only use VA’s school locator to find qualifying programs. Avoid suspicious websites drowning in advertisements.

What sorts of schools might Mr. Horton be talking about, you ask? How about:

It’s been well-documented that for-profit universities receive millions of dollars in GI Bill money each year by aggressively advertising to unsuspecting veterans.  But what isn’t as well-documented is that the University of Phoenix–one of the première for-profit universities–actually advertises on the American Forces Network.  Not only does this violate AFN’s “no advertisements” policy (the network usually runs public service announcements), but it tacitly endorses these institutions.  Though a spokesman for AFN-Europe claimed such ads were “beneficial to the community”, I’m sure the Veterans Administration would disagree.

So, want to maximize your GI Bill benefits?  Tell AFN to stop airing University of Phoenix commercials.

(And could they bring back Squeakers the Operational Security Hamster while they’re at it?)

About Crispin Burke

Major Crispin Burke is a US Army aviator qualified in the UH-60 and LUH-72 helicopters. Major Burke has served in the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, and Joint Task Force-Bravo in Honduras. In what is likely a sad statement on the state of humanity, Major Burke's writings, musings, and irreverent cartoons have been featured at Small Wars Journal, National Defense University, Foreign Policy Online, Wired Magazine, Egremont, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Great Satan's Girlfriend.
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