Members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee recently introduced the GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act (s. 2241). The bill is designed to help veterans make informed decisions about the schools they choose to attend. If passed, this bill would also require VA and DoD to create a joint policy to curb aggressive recruiting and misleading marketing aimed at servicemembers and veterans using the GI Bill.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said, “This bill is designed to ensure that our veterans have the facts to make their own decisions and to defend themselves from being taken advantage of. We can’t allow them to get anything less than the full potential of this benefit – because so much is riding on it.”
According to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee press release, the GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act of 2012 complements veterans’ educational assistance programs by requiring VA to provide beneficiaries with easy-to-understand information about schools that are approved for GI Bill use.
• Information Availability: Calls 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.
• Information Dissemination: Requires VA to provide educational beneficiaries with easy-to-understand information about schools that are approved for GI Bill benefit use.
• Staffing and Training: Requires educational institutions to have at least one employee who is knowledgeable about benefits available to servicemembers and veterans. This legislation further requires that academic advising, tutoring, career and placement counseling services, and referrals to Vet Centers are available and that institutions offer training to faculty members on matters that are relevant to servicemembers and veterans.
• Curbing Misleading Marketing and Aggressive Recruiting: Requires VA and the Department of Defense to develop a joint policy on aggressive recruiting and misleading marketing aimed at servicemembers, veterans, and other beneficiaries.
• Educational Counseling: Makes educational counseling available to more beneficiaries.
Any action taken to help veterans make wise choices before deciding on a college is a great step. In fact the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) offers servicemembers (anyone actually) a great tool called the Distance Learning Readiness Self-Assessment which can help prospective students decide if taking online classes is right for them.
However, the DoD and VA should also be required to assess and train veterans to ensure they are academically prepared before they enroll for school. Programs like Veterans Upward Bound offer that type of assessment, tutoring and counseling opportunities. Unfortunately, due to very limited funding, VUB is only available at 47 sites nationwide.