President Obama Takes First Step in Cracking Down on Predatory For-Profit Schools

The new GI Bill is under attack. Predatory for-profit schools are targeting veterans’ benefits through aggressive and deceptive marketing campaigns. They work hard to get veterans enrolled and their benefit checks in the bank, but don’t provide important services like career and academic counselors while veterans are on campus. Without this support, many for-profit schools have extremely high drop-out rates. And, they aren’t delivering quality educations. Many veterans try to change schools and are told their credits won’t transfer with them. Others graduate only to find that their degrees don’t qualify them for the jobs they want.

Choosing a college is a critical decision. It should be based on real information, not marketing campaigns. With the high drop-out rates and poor quality of education that many predatory for-profit schools provide, what vet would choose these programs? There are many for-profit schools that do provide excellent education programs, especially vocational training and online programs. But when all the information available is the marketing campaigns of predatory schools, it is hard to tell the good programs from the bad.

That’s why IAVA has called on Congress and the President to help fix the problem by giving vets access to the information they need to make the best choice on their education. In April, President Obama answered that call and issued an Executive Order that:

  1. Helps veterans compare educational programs by giving veterans, service members and military families information about the cost and quality of educational programs, such as available financial aid and drop-out rates. It requires that schools give students information before they enroll, and instructs the VA and DoD to make this information available through educational counseling and a website.
  2. Cracks down on aggressive and deceptive recruiting practices of educational institutions by establishing rules for those recruiting on military bases and taking steps to reduce marketing fraud and deception online.
  3. Establishes better oversight and accountability by creating a new centralized system where veterans can file a complaint against schools they believe have acted fraudulently.

This is a critical step that requires the Executive Branch to develop an action plan in the next 90 days. But, it is just a start. Because the action was an Executive Order, it isn’t as permanent as a law passed by Congress. Congress must act swiftly to ensure these measures last beyond President Obama’s tenure as President and can expand the information and resources available to students as they choose where to go to college. IAVA is committed to ensuring that the New GI Bill fulfills its promise as one of the best career education and training programs. IAVA is also working to repeal the rule that rewards for-profit schools for targeting veterans in the first place by amending the 90-10 rule—a fight we kicked off at Storm the Hill 2012.

Attending school on the Post-9/11 GI Bill? If you think you have been targeted by deceptive recruiting practices or marketing by a for-profit school, contact IAVA here.