According to a recent report by The Guardian, numerous US veterans defrauded by private universities are now fighting to regain their lost educational benefits. Antonio Luna, a former marine, narrated his struggle of being unable to secure employment after graduating from DeVry University, a for-profit institution that promised great job placement opportunities but failed to deliver.
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- Many veterans have been misled by for-profit universities promising high job placement rates but failing to deliver and used their military benefits to pay for their education and cannot have these benefits restored.
- Two legislative efforts are currently underway in Congress aiming to restore GI Bill benefits to veterans who were victims of fraud.
- The issue lies in jurisdiction; the Department of Education can identify fraudulent colleges but has no control over GI Bill benefits, administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Luna’s case is not isolated, as private universities have been exploiting veterans for years. Now, however, two legislative efforts in Congress are striving to rectify the situation, with the potential to help thousands of former students.
The Problem of the Structure
The plight of these defrauded veterans stems from the structure of the VA’s authority. The VA, which administers GI Bill benefits, has no power to claw back funds or restore benefits, despite the Department of Education identifying colleges that have tricked students.
Private institutions, including the likes of DeVry, have historically faced regulations that promoted the recruitment of veterans. These colleges needed to source at least 10% of their revenue from avenues other than the Department of Education’s loans and grants. GI Bill funds, until recently, fulfilled these requirements.
These colleges also attracted veterans like Brian Whitehead, who joined the army with a strong aspiration for higher education. He enrolled in ITT Technical Institute, another for-profit college, but found the quality of education lacking and his degree non-transferable. Like Luna, his GI benefits have been exhausted with nothing to show for it.
Will The Restoration of Benefits Help?
Despite the legislative efforts to restore these benefits, it remains uncertain how many eligible veterans will take advantage of the potential new law. After benefits were restored to veterans whose colleges closed in 2018, only 20% of the eligible applicants applied for restoration after nine months. It’s clear that outreach and information dissemination are necessary to ensure veterans are aware of their rights and the possibilities available to them.
For veterans like Whitehead, the restoration of benefits is a matter of justice. He underscores that the government should be responsible for ensuring the institutions approved for GI Bill benefits are legitimate and provide the promised educational outcomes. If they fail in their commitments, Whitehead argues, there should indeed be a restoration process.
Discover the Top 10 Scholarships and Grants for Veterans in Pursuit of Higher Education
While the struggle to reclaim lost benefits continues, veterans can take advantage of various scholarships and grants specially designed to support their higher education goals. A wide range of organizations are stepping up to the plate, offering programs that acknowledge the selfless sacrifices made by our military personnel. These initiatives are designed to provide veterans with a chance to develop and progress in their chosen educational paths.
Let’s take a look at the top ten scholarships and grants available to veterans:
- Post-9/11 GI Bill: This program covers full tuition and fees at public universities for eligible veterans and gives sizable grants towards private and foreign schools.
- Tillman Scholars Program: Named after Pat Tillman, a former NFL player and Army Ranger, this scholarship helps active-duty service members, veterans, and military spouses by providing significant educational scholarships.
- Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarships: This initiative is specifically designed for women who have either served in the Army or are currently serving. Notably, it also extends its benefits to their children, emphasizing the family aspect of military service.
- AMVETS Scholarships: AMVETS National Service Foundation provides a series of scholarships to veterans, active military, guard/reserves, and their children or grandchildren.
- Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) Education Programs: NMCRS offers interest-free loans and grants for degrees at accredited educational institutions.
- ThanksUSA Scholarship: ThanksUSA provides need-based college, technical, and vocational school scholarships for the children and spouses of active-duty personnel.
- Folds of Honor Scholarship: Folds of Honor provides scholarships to the spouses and children of service members disabled or killed in action.
- Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship: Provides Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to the children and surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty.
- Army Scholarship Foundation: The Army Scholarship Foundation awards one-year financial scholarships to students who are children of enlisted U.S. Army service members or Army Veterans.
- Veterans United Foundation Scholarship: This one aims to support not just the service members but also their families. It demonstrates its commitment by offering a substantial amount, up to $50,000, in scholarship money, helping to make higher education a more achievable dream for military families.
While every veteran’s educational journey is unique, these scholarships and grants can provide much-needed support and aid in making higher education more accessible.
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