Obama administration wants to trademark GI Bill

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at Fort Stewart army base as first lady Michelle Obama looks on April 27, 2012 in Hinesville, Ga. This is Obama's first trip to Fort Stewart during which he is scheduled to meet with soldiers and their families.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story misspelled the surname of the vice president of military programs at American Military University. He is Jim Sweitzer. The text has been corrected.

 Kai Ryssdal: President Obama went down to Fort Stewart, Ga., today for a visit that was part patriotic and part political. There were visits with soldiers and a stop at a memorial to those who've killed in the line of duty. And there was a speech and a new executive order taking on colleges that aggressively recruit veterans and active-duty military. Schools will have to give more information about student debt loads and graduation rates, especially for-profit schools that get a big chunk of federal GI Bill funding. From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.


Amy Scott: For-profit colleges enroll about 13 percent of students in this country, but they collect about a third of funding from the GI bill, which pays for veterans to go to college. Today’s order from the White House aims at ending aggressive, sometimes deceptive recruiting by colleges going after that money.    

 

Michael Dakduk: It’s essentially the Student Veterans of America wish list.

Michael Dakduk is executive director of that advocacy group. Their wish list includes giving prospective students better information about the cost and quality of degrees, and the government aid available to them. The Administration also wants to trademark the term “GI Bill” to keep schools from misusing it to lure students. Jim Sweitzer is vice president of military programs at American Military University. He says one good thing about the order is that it directs the military to spell out how recruiters can operate on bases.

Jim Sweitzer: We are welcome at some installations. Others, they won’t allow us to visit, or only maybe once a quarter. There are really no clear and consistent policies.

Ted Daywalt runs an employment website for veterans called Vet Jobs. He says a bipartisan law would have been more effective, but he says he’s seen many veterans graduate with degrees from unaccredited programs that turn out to be worthless.

Ted Daywalt: These veterans are being ripped off, and right now, if this is the best we can get to at least get the ball moving to protect them, let’s go for it.

President Obama didn’t touch the rule that makes military students such lucrative customers. For-profit colleges can’t make more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal sources, but military aid doesn’t count. I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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