Make Sure Your School Is State-Approved
For generations, the GI Bill has been America’s promise to members of the Armed Forces that their personal sacrifice for their country will be rewarded. The bill has been reinvented a few times since it was first implemented in 1944, but the premise is the same: Serve in the military, get money for college.
Effective August 1, military veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill are eligible for as much as $25,162 per year for three years. However, this makes them an attractive target for unscrupulous for-profit colleges, some of which see dedicated veterans as just dollar signs.
Colleges must comply with the so-called 90/10 rule, which states that they can’t get more than 90% of their revenue from federal student aid sources; 10% must come from non-Title IV (federal education funding) sources. But a loophole in the rule allows for-profit colleges to count GI Bill education money in the other 10% category, which is what makes soliciting veterans for enrollment so attractive: Every veteran enrolled in a for-profit school with GI Bill money allows the school to enroll up to nine non-veteran students with federal financial aid.
Recent efforts to strengthen protections at the federal level have been stymied. In May, U.S. President Donald Trump vetoed bipartisan legislation to provide debt forgiveness to veterans who were defrauded by for-profit colleges; in July, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs lifted a ban on for-profit colleges that used deceptive recruiting practices to target veterans, restoring the colleges’ access to GI Bill funds.
Whether or not you are a veteran, you can protect yourself when choosing a for-profit school. Before you sign any contract or make a tuition payment, make sure the school has state-issued approval from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). You can search for approved schools at BPPE’s website.
BPPE’s Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR) offers resources to help you make the right decision when choosing a college. The Researching Colleges section of OSAR’s website helps you discover your educational style, find the right school for you, and learn about your options for paying for college. Visit www.osar.bppe.ca.gov for more information.
In addition, one of OSAR’s key outreach partners, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) offers information to veterans about their military education benefits and other services. Find out more about CalVet’s Transition Assistance Program at https://www.calvet.ca.gov/VetServices/Pages/California-Transition-Assistance-Program.aspx.