Domestic, Friend, Fraud, or Fishy, Opinion, Recruitment, Regulatory, Required, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Thursday, November 15, 2012 3:50 - 0 Comments

Opinion: How The GI Bill Fails Soldiers And Lines For-Profit College Pockets

Puff Daddy George, 2/2 Eric Gjerde via Compfight

Jack Shakely writes an important OpEd in the LA Times about the problem of for-profit colleges taking advantage of GI Bill veterans and wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. He calls the Post-9/11 GI Bill the “poster child for the law of unintended consequences.” He points out an aspect of the GI Bill many do not know about… that recipients receive a living stipend along with it. It’s an issue we have written about before and issue that requires ongoing regulation and vigilance.

Shakely writes:

Down through the years, few government programs have enjoyed the almost universal approval of the GI Bill, enacted in 1944 and expanded in 1966. I’m one of its fans: It helped me buy my first home (a bungalow in Hermosa Beach) and sent me to law school.

As the U.S. military became all volunteer in the 1970s and America enjoyed more than a quarter-century of peace, the GI Bill seemed less necessary and its benefits dwindled. The 1984 version of the bill, called the Montgomery GI Bill, looked more like a Roth IRA than a veteran’s benefit, with a requirement that the serviceman or woman contribute $100 a month for up to a year while on active duty to qualify for post-active-duty educational benefits. The kicker was that you had to put your money in upfront and if you then decided not to go to college after you left the military, you lost your dough. A lot of vets said why bother.

The perceived parsimony of the diluted GI Bill ended with a bang in 2008 with the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This bill, which was augmented in 2011, chose to focus on education and retraining, and reflected the nation’s grateful thanks to troops returning from years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation provides generous payments for public or private college tuition, a housing allowance for full-time students that amounts to about $1,200 a month and up to $1,000 a year for books.

The latest bill also contains two provisions — one a bureaucratic head-scratcher, the other well intended but often counterproductive — that turn the returning veterans from honorees to prey. The predators are for-profit universities, which provide by far the lion’s share of education to our returning GIs…

The bill provides a $684 “housing” allowance even if a veteran attends college online and the school has no real campus, let alone room-and-board fees. This allowance is sent directly to the veteran. The for-profit recruiters can sell returning troops on the premise that not only will their tuition and fees be covered but that $684 a month goes into his or her pocket. The allowance may be meant to help defray living expenses, even for online students, but it’s essentially free money that would be hard for anybody to resist. It may partially explain why vets with little interest in education would enroll in online programs. (About two-thirds of these schools’ online students leave without getting a degree, but then so do most of their regular students.)

Via The Los Angeles Times

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2013-02-15 16:00

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