For-Profit Colleges – Things To Know Before You Spend Your G.I. Bill
Don’t get ripped off
Earlier this month, a company called Corinthian Colleges filed for bankruptcy leaving thousands of their students adrift and in debt with probably nothing to show for it. This just the latest development for the company; The Department of Education fined them $30mil last month for lying about their job placement rates. Prior to that, Corinthian spent years in court over other misleading information and high-interest loans directed to low-income students.
Corinthian isn’t alone though. It’s just one player in a cottage industry of for-profit “colleges” offering bachelors, graduate and even Ph.D. programs tailored for unconventional students. You probably know the names of some: DeVry, University of Phoenix, Full Sail University. Their advertisements are on television, billboards and all over the internet now.
Unlike attending a “normal” school like Purdue or Indiana State, there are some important things to be aware of when dealing with for-profit schools.
4 things to remember when you’re thinking about a school:
Accreditation: This is simply a standard that a group of schools agree to to maintain a level of academic quality. There are different flavors of accreditation. There’s National and Regional, Institutional and Program, but without having to learn the ins and outs of that system, do this: If you’re thinking about an online degree program, or a school like DeVry or University of Phoenix, call the admissions office of a school you’re familiar with, and find out if they accept credits for the school you’re researching. If they don’t, that’s a red flag. If they do, your time and money won’t be wasted if you decide to transfer schools later.
Financial Aid and Loans: The G.I. Bill won’t cover everything you need for a 4 year degree. You’re probably going to need other means to finish off when your G.I. Bill drys up. Before enrolling in a school, read the fine print on any loans or financial aid you are going to sign for. In the case of Corinthian College, bachelor’s degrees could cost $75,000. Federal Aid won’t cover that much, so after several years of study, students had to decide to get private loans, or drop out. The loans Corinthian offered came with origination fees of 6% and interest rates around 15%. Compared to 3% and 7% for most federal loans, that’s a huge cost. Fortunately, federal regulators are working to get relief in the way of loan forgiveness for students who got roped into this, but as of yet, there is no way to “reset” if you burned through your G.I. Bill.
To Good To Be True: If you’re looking for a 4 year degree in 18 months, some unscrupulous institutions are looking for you. Getting a college degree is hard work. It’s going to take 4 years, give or take a semester, for the vast majority of students. There are no shortcuts, and if a school sounds like it is offering one, be wary.
Do your research: There are a lot of horror stories about bad experiences with for profit schools. Most of them could have been avoided with a little research. In the end, it’s your G.I. Bill, your education, and your responsibility. Learn all you can about a school, the course of study and the road to your degree.
Need to talk to someone to help you sort this out?
Call the State Education Office:
317-247-3300, ext 77023 OR ext 77020
Talk to your Unit Readiness NCO or your Career Counselor