WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government launched on Thursday a new online complaint system for student veterans and military service members who believe that they were misled by colleges or denied services necessary for their education.
The central repository stems from complaints by some students who found that credits earned would not transfer to other universities, despite school recruiter statements that they would, or that assurances of a high-demand job after graduation were untrue. In other instances, schools have recruited veterans with traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder without providing the support necessary to learn.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order calling for the creation of the complaint system in April 2012. When a complaint is received, federal agencies will first contact the school on the student's behalf to work toward a resolution. Complaints will also be forwarded to a network maintained by the Federal Trade Commission that is accessible to more than 650 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Veterans who file complaints may remain anonymous. Federal guidelines prohibit schools from attempting to retaliate against students who do leave their contact information.
The federal government spends billions of dollars annually to pay for higher education expenses of student veterans or their dependents through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Defense Department also covers tuition expenses for service members taking courses during off-duty hours. The generous reimbursements make it attractive for colleges and universities to recruit student veterans, sometimes with deception or high-pressure enrollment tactics. Lawmakers have singled out some for-profit colleges as needing greater scrutiny.
Officials at Veterans of Foreign Wars said the complaint system addresses one of its top priorities that could better identify bad actors in the higher-education system. "This new complaint process will be a game changer for student veterans," said VFW National Commander William A. Thien.
GI Bill complaints: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/feedback.asp
Tuition assistance complaints: http://tinyurl.com/k45wgn8