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‘For-profit’ schools targeting veterans with high-pressure sales and lying about job placement

Veteran Salute HelmetSeveral years ago, it was upsetting to read an article about “for-profit” schools that were charging veterans high tuition for courses that were worthless in getting them jobs. Millions in government-provided financial aid had been wasted.

Many of these colleges aggressively target veterans.

Amy Hebert, consumer education specialist for the Federal Trade Commission, said some for-profit schools:

  • Seriously exaggerate their job placement rates after graduation or the transferability of credits.
  • Pressure veterans to sign up for classes that don’t suit their needs.
  • Encourage veterans to take out big loans that could leave them with huge debts.

The FTC wants to hear from veterans who have had problems with for-profit schools.

The agency has received complaints about some for-profit schools looking to make money off veterans’ education benefits – pressuring them into paying for programs that waste their benefits and don’t come through with promised results.

The FTC and Department of Veterans Affairs have announced an agreement to work together so the VA doesn’t unknowingly approve enrollment at institutions with unfair or deceptive advertising or marketing.

If you’re a veteran who’s just getting started in your education search, the FTC offers these tips:

  • Don’t let a recruiter rush you. Take time to ask questions. Learn more about avoiding big pitfalls in choosing a college.
  • Look up schools in the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator. You’ll see whether they’re for-profit or not-for-profit, details about accreditation, average loans taken out, and graduation and default rates. High default rates can mean students are taking on too much debt and having trouble finding jobs.

If you think a school has been dishonest with you, file a complaint with the FTC. The FTC, VA, ED, and the Department of Defense put complaints they receive about educational institutions in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network database, which is used by federal, state, and local law enforcement.

For more information, visit Choosing a College: Questions to Ask.

Copyright 2015, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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