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Obama Targets Diploma Mills that Market to Vets

The Obama administration wants to trademark the term “GI Bill” in an effort to shield veterans and military families being swindled or misled by schools that target their federal education benefits. President Barack Obama signed a wide-ranging order that partially addresses growing complaints about fraudulent marketing and recruiting practices aimed at military families eligible for federal education loans under the GI Bill. The executive order mandates several new education protections for military service members. There is little the federal government can do to shut down diploma mills, but the new protections would make it harder for post-secondary and technical schools to misrepresent themselves to military students. Obama’s order will also set a new gauge that potential students can use to calculate how much a school will really cost in tuition and fees called “Know Before You Owe” system.

The main target of the White House action is for-profit colleges and universities that market heavily to military families because of the easy availability of federal loan money under the GI Bill. Federal money, most of it through the financial aid students receive, accounts for up to 90 percent of for-profit colleges’ revenue — even more if veterans attend the school on the GI Bill. Some post-secondary schools target current and former military service members using deceptive military-themed websites that appear to be government-run or connected to the GI Bill benefit system, administration officials said.

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