Considerable changes have come to the for-profit sector of the higher education world. These dramatic shifts have caused for-profit schools to lose their accreditation or close altogether. As a result, GI Bill users have lost college credits credits, received diminished education benefits and the sudden loss of a housing allowance.
For-Profit Institution Problems
Most recently, Ashford University was sued by the state of California for “misleading students about its tuition costs, burying them in student loan debt and offering little of value in return.” It’s been called, “an institution that professed to provide higher education but was making a ton of money instead.”
Why is California up in arms about Ashford? Because the cost of an online education is more than $60,000 and most students do not graduate. Those that do graduate, leave laden with student debt and without a job.
Additionally, the largest for-profit school accreditor, ACICS, lost its authority due to “loose oversight” in 2016 only to have it restored in April of 2017. In addition, nationally recognized institutions like ITT Tech shut their doors in recent years along with other for-profit schools.
How GI Bill Users Were Hurt
When ITT Tech shut their doors, military affiliated students enrolled there stopped receiving their Basic Housing Allowance (BAH). It was also made clear when this all began to unfold, that those students won’t get any of the GI Bill money they spent at that institution back. Why is that bad? Because then if they want to try to transfer those credits to a new institution to complete their degree, most likely that degree won’t value those credits.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs set up a Breaking News feed that updates those affected by recent changes and any GI Bill updates. These updates include tips on what to consider when using your GI Bill as well as how current events could affect GI Bill payments.
Back when ITT closed their doors, this VA Breaking News Feed posted the following,
“Depending on your student status and your interactions with ITT, you may be eligible to have your federal student loans forgiven, cancelled or discharged and may be eligible to be reimbursed for loans you already paid.” Great news for some, but for so many they would just like to have their GI Bill dollars that they earned from serving in the military reinstated to where they can attend an accredited (and hopefully non-profit) school to attain a worthwhile degree.
A more sobering post from September 28, 2016,
“Knowing that not only are you without a school, but also without the housing allowance to help pay your bills, we recognize this may put you at risk of being unable to stay in your home. If you face the possibility of losing your residence, please contact our National Call Center for Homeless Veterans…”
If you need assistance, here’s the contact info:
1-877-4AID VET (877-424-3838)
A Solution – How GI Bill Users Can Avoid These Issues
Hindsight is 20/20. So how do we stop the cycle of GI Bill users who succumb to for-profit institution ploys?
Here’s one solution: Don’t even look at for-profit schools when searching for a degree program.
This online database only has not-for-profits in it. Therefore, you can search for schools with specific military assistance programming and all the schools that will populate in your search will be non-profits.
Starting the search with this tool will help college-bound students to completely avoid the mess of for-profits.
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(Featured Image Courtesy of DVIDS)