Celebrate the New Year knowing that it is becoming much more difficult for fraudulent educational services and schools to scam veterans out of their GI Bill benefits. Last month, the VA officially announced their ownership of the term GI Bill, which will greatly cut down on the ways in which non-government affiliated companies can use the term in marketing.
Why all the hubbub about for-profit schools and veteran education? For starters, for-profit institutions like the University of Phoenix and DeVry took in 37 percent of GI Bill educational funds between 2009 and 2011 but only educated 25 percent of veterans. This large consumption of taxpayer money is even more alarming when you realize that the graduation rate at private for-profit institutions is only 28 percent.
On top of the shocking statistics, the tuition for these colleges is usually so steep that the $17,000 per semester limit mandated by the GI Bill for private schools doesn't cover everything and veterans are forced to take out costly loans in addition, loans for which the default rate sits at 47 percent.
Even though the GI Bill covers full tuition at public schools, when numerous deceptive marketing and services all seem to point toward the convenience of private for-profits, many veterans go the more expensive route without receiving all the information about costs and graduation rates.
In April, President Obama signed an order requiring the Veteran’s Association, The Department of Education and the Department of Defense to work together to put an end to what he called deceptive and misleading marketing that targeted veterans and their GI Bill education benefits.
Obtaining the rights to GIBill.com was one of the major tasks for this order because the owners of the site had been directing veterans solely to for-profit schools that were clients of the website. After Attorney General investigations in several states, these practices were labeled deceptive and the rights to the website were turned over to the VA.
The second step in eliminating all of the shady marketing directing veterans toward for-profit colleges was to trademark the term “GI Bill” so no one can use it to appear to be a government affiliated institution. In December, the VA did just that, obtaining the full rights to the term.
Despite early criticism of the practicality of the executive order, the GI Bill trademark and takeover of GIBill.com are two huge steps in the right direction of providing veterans with adequate and accurate information about their education benefits as well as the institutions available to them.