“GI Bill Schools” or Just Proprietary Schools?

The College Guide has looked before at the cash cow military veterans have become for for-profit schools in recent years. Well apparently one way that for-profit schools attract these students is through somewhat official govermenty-looking websites that aren’t really affiliated with the military.

My buddy Adam Weinstein over at Mother Jones writes about Alex Horton, who writes on the blog of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Here’s how to get the most out of your military education benefits, Horton explains. It’s important to beware of questionable research aids:

Go to Google and search for “GI Bill schools.” The first link you get isn’t a page run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The first result is GIBill.com, and it uses the name of the most recognized public education program in existence to its financial benefit. It appears to be a legitimate site for information, but a cursory search of its privacy policy shows it is owned by an online marketing firm that, according to a major business publication, specializes in directing students to for-profit schools through its page. It’s a questionable marketing strategy that seeks to legitimize a page that serves little purpose other than to funnel student Veterans and convince them their options for education are limited to their advertisers. There are 6,500 schools across the country that allow GI Bill benefits; only use VA’s school locator to find qualifying programs. Avoid suspicious websites drowning in advertisements.

Now it’s worth pointing out that last year six for-profit colleges had more students receiving VA funding than any other colleges in America. Many of those 6,500 schools across the country that allow GI Bill benefits are for-profit schools, presumably many of those schools are those funding GIBill.com.

But seriously, check out GIBill.com. It sure looks official, doesn’t it?

It has a drop box of what it calls GI Bill Schools. There are 12 of them listed. While all of these schools do, of course, allow GI benefits, they are also—Brown Mackie College, Kaplan University, University of Phoenix, Westwood College, etc.—publically-traded, for-profit companies.

These are not the only colleges that accept GIBill money. This is the Veterans Affairs Department’s actual college locator. The search function is a little clunky, but there sure are a lot more colleges from which to choose.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer