Several federal agencies launched a new online complaint system for veterans, servicemembers, and their families, who use Post 9/11 GI Bill and other military education benefits, to report on issues with higher education institutions, including for-profit colleges.
The Federal Trade Commission, along with the Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, Department of Justice, Department of Education, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created the customize online reporting form to gather input on abuse by higher education institutions regarding attendance, marketing, graduation rates, program quality, employment prospects and course credit. The complaints can be made directly with the DoD or VA.
The complaints, which will be forwarded to the VA, DoD and DoE beginning next month, will help the government identify and address fraudulent and deceptive practices targeted toward service members.
“Veterans should get truthful information when they choose how and where to use their military education benefits. Unfortunately, that may not always be the case,” Jessica Rich, director, FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in the announcement.
For-profit colleges have a shady reputation for lying to students and using funds for non-educational purposes.
Last October, the California Attorney General filed suit against Corinthian Colleges, Inc. and it subsidiaries for lying to students about prospects of job-placement and the alleged illegal use of military seals in advertisements.
In early 2013, several attorneys general supported legislation that would have limited the amount of federal money, including the GI Bill, that for-profit schools could spend on advertising. The legislation came after studies showed that for-profit colleges, which received more than $32 billion dollars in Federal Aid, spent inordinate amounts of money on things other than education.
The new complaint system, and newly announced tips to help servicemembers, veterans, and their families choose higher education institutions to reach their goals, are part of the Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2012.