To the casual observer the Senate’s relentless scrutiny of the education business may seem like an anti-for-profit crusade. But for many that perception drastically changed on June 28 when PBS's public affairs series, Frontline, featured a report titled, 'Educating Sergeant Pantzke.' The Frontline report told of the unfortunate impact that fraudulent admissions practices have on our returning servicemembers.
The PBS report has spurred an important discussion about the business of educating our veterans and the difficulty many returning servicemembers have when trying to use their education benefits to successfully transition back into the civilian workforce.
I recently sat down with staff members from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee to learn more about their research on a group of private sector colleges and universities known as “for-profit” schools. They shared research data and disturbing stories about the dishonest admissions practices they discovered at some for-profit schools and the harm being caused to our veterans.
In the light of stories like Sgt. Pantzke's and the HELP committee’s research, it’s clear that there is good reason for vigilance. And, it also shows the need for veterans to educate themselves before they enroll in school.
One sure way veterans can avoid getting ripped off is to do their homework before they start college. There are several questions vets need to ask before they choose a school: Is the program’s cost fully covered by GI Bill and Military Tuition Assistance benefits; will previous college credits count toward the degree; will the degree be recognized by ALL accredited schools and professional associations? – the list goes on.
It is important to note that not all “for-profit” schools are guilty of dishonest admissions practices and many offer quality, flexible, accredited education and training programs that help veterans transition. In fact, for-profit schools have offered degrees and professional training programs that have helped millions of servicemembers and veterans since the advent of the GI Bill in 1942.
In the end, veterans have the right to expect honest answers from college admissions counselors at any school - whether for-profit or non-profit. And, veterans should also do the research to be sure they are being told the truth – "trust but verify."
Read the Military Student Bill of Rights and check out the following articles that offer advice to help servicemembers and vets avoid getting ripped off: