By Rebecca Fiedler
The federal government is attempting to make college life after military service worth it to veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released the GI Bill comparison tool online on Feb. 4, which will assist student veterans in researching benefits they can receive from different colleges.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill grants federal dollars to veterans wishing to pursue a college career. Through this new online comparison tool, veterans can estimate how much money they may receive under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, as well as see how many other veterans are attending a particular college.
“Also, for the first time, V.A. is publicly releasing information about the number of students receiving VA education benefits at a particular school,” stated a recent blog post from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Through the online comparison tool, students can now see how many veterans attend the school of their choice. In the future, Veterans Affairs will add additional functionality to the tool, including the ability to compare up to three schools side-by-side.”
Albuquerque, N.M., sophomore and U.S. Navy veteran Corpsman Trey Gregory III said there have been a number of for-profit colleges cheating veterans and active duty military members out of financial benefits, which he finds disturbing.
Large online schools will cater to deployed people, who can only take online classes while overseas and receive tuition assistance from the military, Gregory said. These students in the military won’t receive an education from the online classes that would carry any merit with other universities, he said.
“People will literally copy Wikipedia articles and paste them in to turn in to the online college class, and receive an A,” Gregory said.
He said schools can scam military members by claiming to be nationally accredited, but Gregory said he feels the education is more valid from a school that is regionally accredited.
“Not everyone in the military is savvy with education, and they just think, ‘Oh, that’s great,’” Gregory said.
Dr. Janet Bagby, Baylor Veteran Educational and Transition Services coordinator, said there are colleges that scam veterans as well.
“There have been these schools that are for-profit that are really taking advantage of vets, taking their GI Bill money and not really giving them an appropriate education,” Bagby said.
The new federal website will also provide a way for veterans to better evaluate non-profit schools like Baylor, Bagby said.
“I think it’s going to be a very welcomed tool,” she said. “I’m excited about it.”
Bagby said she feels it is evident from the information about Baylor provided on the GI Bill comparison tool, that Baylor is open with its veterans information.
“Baylor has, in my opinion, been extremely open on information we’ve gathered on all students,” Bagby said.
Gregory said he questions whether this tool will be helpful in ensuring that veterans choose a school that gives them a good education with good benefits.
“I don’t know if this website will work or if people will pay attention to it, because almost all that information is already out there,” he said.