The GI Bill has been a major conversation topic recently because some institutions out there take advantage of GI Bill users.

How do they do this?

False advertising of programs they don’t actually have, illegally using the official seals of military branches, the logistics of how the bill is set up (think about the fine print..if you’re interested, look up the 90/10 rule), and inflating their graduation rates, to name a few.

You want to use the GI Bill benefits that you earned, and you should. But don’t blow it. Here’s what you need to look out for.

For-profit institution scams

Wasting your money on predatory for-profit schools is exactly that – a waste!. We can’t stress this enough.

Sometimes you aren’t even aware that an institution is for-profit. There are a million other characteristics of the institution that you are checking out, and it’s financial model could be easily overlooked.

Using your GI Bill online – not as effective as you might think

The transition from military to civilian lifestyle is tough enough as it is. A lot is going on in your life.

Signing up for an online institution can sure seem attractive. You probably have a family at home and you don’t want to take time away from them to go onto campus, or you have a job or other commitments.

However, it is important that you set yourself up for success and get in the “study” mode instead of getting distracted and having to pause lectures to take the dog out or pick the kids up from school.

Putting your feet on a campus will not only help your studies, but you will make more connections and receive support from peers, which is always helpful when transitioning.

Using your GI Bill while on active duty

You don’t need to! All branches have some sort of tuition assistance while you are on active duty, and that assistance won’t dip into your GI Bill allowance down the road.

Furthermore, by using your GI Bill on active duty you are limiting yourself because the options for institutions is limited. You live near a base and many times the best institution for you isn’t going to be nearby.

By using your GI Bill while active you are missing out on financial incentives.

Moral of the story–don’t do it!

Using your GI Bill before you find your ideal school

Finding the right school for your needs is far more important that starting your degree program in a hurry.

It takes time to reflect on what kinds of resources you need, whether that be an SVA Chapter for support, an on-campus Veteran Center, acceptance of ACE credit, or participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Reaching out to admissions counselors to get these answers before you go any further is critical.

Instead of begin wooed by their degree programs, you first need to know if the basic support for student veterans is there.

Trust us, first make sure the foundation is there!

We created College Recon to provide active duty personnel and veterans with a reliable source of not-for-profit institutions. So if you are looking for school with a specific list of characteristics and traits, or if you just want to find some good, veteran-friendly schools, College Recon will spit out the names of not-for-profit institutions that fit that criteria. Helpful, right?

You can get started today.

(Featured Image Courtesy: USC Veterans Resource Center)