Service members and veterans looking to learn more about their educational benefits under the G.I. Bill may be in trouble if they plunge unprepared into the wilds of the Internet. Many reputable private and public universities, trade schools and training programs are committed to helping veterans further their education and careers. But there are also predators itching to pad their enrollments with veterans and get their hands on government billions — nearly 600,000 people are expected to enter classes under the G.I. Bill this year, with the Veterans Affairs Department footing more than $9 billion of the cost.
Thus the welcome move by Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington and chairwoman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, who has introduced a bill to tilt the knowledge balance in the veterans’ favor.
The G.I. Bill Consumer Awareness Act seeks to ensure that veterans enter school and training programs armed with useful information: data about things like the true cost of student loans, how credits they earn may be transferred, dropout and job-placement rates, how well a program will prepare them for a job or for earning a professional license or certification, and what wages they might expect.
The bill would require programs to have at least one full-time-equivalent employee able to advise service members and veterans about their benefits. It would also ensure that the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments work together to curb G.I. Bill abuses stemming from aggressive, misleading recruiting and marketing, on base and online.
Senator Murray’s bill complements steps the V.A. is already taking to prepare veterans to pursue education and new careers. With the economy still slumping, many in the home-bound surge of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are finding hope and opportunity in the classroom. It is important to make sure that this country’s huge investment in the futures of those who served is not squandered or exploited.
- The New York Times