Online Complaints System Will Police Colleges Over GI Bill Benefits

January 30, 2014
Stars and Stripes 
student loan news
Federal officials this week rolled out a Web-based complaints system targeting colleges that take advantage of student veterans and their military education benefits. Gripes entered into this new system will be reviewed by the departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense, Education, and Justice as well as by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission. Federal officials intend to use the findings to pressure schools into changing their policies, or to pursue harsher punishments.

“This is going to give us the ability to identify problems and trends veterans are having, and name names,” said Ryan Gallucci, deputy legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Lawmakers have been concerned about veterans wasting GI Bill benefits on institutions, particularly for-profit schools, that provide questionable degree programs with few job prospects after graduation. Some schools use "aggressive and deceptive recruiting," and may lie about "accreditation, true tuition, and fees," said Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success.

Complaints fielded through the new system, available online through the VA website, will cover student life problems -- including course offerings and counseling availability -- and possible criminal actions, such as predatory loan programs and academic credentialing fraud. The system also will address issues encountered by active-duty students using Defense Department tuition aid.

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