Websites Like “GIBill.Com” Look Like Official Government Websites, but Sell Veterans’ Info to Educational Institutions, Including Many For-Profit Colleges
WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today applauded an Executive Order that will help crack down on deceptive and misleading practices targeted at veterans utilizing their GI Bill educational benefits, as well as provide better information to military servicemembers so they can make informed choices about their educational future. Thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, military servicemembers and veterans are able to take advantage of tuition assistance benefits, but many for-profit colleges are attempting to take advantage of men and women in uniform by flooding them with deceptive and aggressive marketing and recruitment pitches.
“When veterans seek to use their GI Bill education benefits, they are too often subjected to overly aggressive and misleading marketing tactics from educational institutions—some of which are no more than ‘diploma mills.’ Many of these institutions are more concerned with their own bottom line than helping those who served on the front lines,” Brown said. “The Executive Order issued by the President today will help achieve many of the same goals in the GI Consumer Bill Awareness Act, including providing veterans with more and better information about their benefits. It would also crack down on the type of recruitment tactics that many of our veterans face as they attempt to utilize their GI Bill benefits. We have to make sure that every eligible veteran has the knowledge and resources to take advantage of the new GI Bill in a way that best prepares them for the future.”
Earlier this week in Cleveland, Brown joined Brad Sonenstein, a U.S. Air Force veteran from Mayfield Heights, to outline the GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act of 2012, legislation that Brown is sponsoring that is similar to the President’s Executive Order. The GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act of 2012 would complement veterans’ educational assistance programs by requiring VA to provide beneficiaries with easy-to-understand information about schools that are approved for GI Bill use. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Call for disclosure of, among other data, statistics related to student loan debt, transferability of credits earned, veteran enrollment, program preparation for licensing and certification, and job placement rates.
- Provide educational beneficiaries with easy-to-understand information about schools that are approved for GI Bill benefit use.
- Require educational institutions accepting GI Bill Benefits to have at least one full-time equivalent employee who is knowledgeable about benefits available to servicemembers and veterans.
- Enable VA and the Department of Defense to develop a joint policy on aggressive recruiting and misleading marketing aimed at servicemembers, veterans, and other beneficiaries.
- Make educational counseling available to more beneficiaries.
According to the Veterans Affairs Committee, on which Brown serves, more than 590,000 servicemembers, veterans, and other beneficiaries are expected to enroll in educational institutions using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The VA is expected to spend more than $9 billion dollars in 2012 on Post-9/11 GI Bill payments and over $2 billion for the nearly 400,000 beneficiaries of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) other education programs.