(WASHINGTON) — The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers financial support for veterans’ education, leading some marketers to target vets with deceptive advertising about college opportunities and President Obama to sign an executive order on Friday to curb those abuses.
Colleges have collected more than $4.4 billion under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.
Reports of aggressive and deceptive targeting by educational institutions toward service members and veterans, particularly by for-profit career colleges, moved President Obama to sign the executive order, which requires colleges to provide more information to veterans such as the likelihood of military members completing a school’s programs prior to enrolling.
On Thursday, the Student Veterans of America revoked the organization’s charters at 26 for-profit institutions after finding that those school groups were not led by student veterans. All 445 chapters of the Student Veterans of America are led by student veterans.
The transition from a military to civilian lifestyle could create a culture shock for many veterans, especially on an academic campus. That’s why speaking to a fellow veteran before enrolling in a school is so important.
Under the executive order, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Education Department’s “Know Before You Owe” financial aid form will also be required to be made available to every college student participating in the Defense Department’s tuition assistance program at nearly 2,000 schools. The form provides information about tuition and fees, estimated student loan debt upon graduation, graduation rates, among other information.
Libby Sander, reporter with The Chronicle of Higher Education, said the sheer amount of information targeted toward veterans pursuing higher education is a roadblock for those unfamiliar with the college selection process, especially the first generation of families to attend college.
“A lot of the veterans I spoke to were the first in their families to go to college and it’s a big deal for them,” Sander said. “They sometimes start the process with a feeling that they don’t even know where to begin.”
Sander explores the challenges and advantages of veterans in higher education in a three-part series in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Out of Uniform.
Sander interviewed Paul Szoldra, a senior at the University of Tampa, will be the first of his family to graduate from college. During his eight years at the United States Marine Corps, Szoldra also obtained a degree from the for-profit University of Phoenix.
“We’re always marketed to by the for-profits,” Szoldra told ABC News.
Szoldra said programs from for-profits, often online, could be an ideal “bridge” before getting an undergraduate degree.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN
Matt McFarland, CNN