— By JIM VINES
Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, Education and Justice, along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Federal Trade Commission, recently announced the launch of a new online complaint system.
It is designed to collect feedback from veterans, service members and their families who are experiencing problems with educational institutions receiving funding from federal military and veterans educational benefits programs, including benefits provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the DoD Military Tuition Assistance Program.
This centralized online reporting system is designed for veterans, service members and eligible dependents to report negative experiences with educational institutions, and gives the federal government the information needed to identify and address unfair, deceptive and misleading practices, and ensure high quality academic and student support services are available for veterans, service members and their families.
The online complaint system empowers veterans and provides them a direct line to VA and partner agencies. The feedback received will help VA strengthen enforcement of the “Principles of Excellence” for institutions of higher learning serving veterans and their families, ensuring students will receive the education benefits they have earned and deserve. Having an easier and more efficient way to to provide feedback will ensure VA has the right information to identify and address any negative practices.
Students can submit a complaint if they believe their school is failing to follow the “Principles of Excellence.” ( i.e., unfair recruiting practices, credit transfer or change in degree requirements) through the centralized online reporting system accessed via the Department of Defense and GI Bill websites.
When feedback is received, agencies will contact the school on behalf of the student and work toward a resolution. Complaints and their resolution will be forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Sentinel Network, accessible by more than 650 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for use in enhancing and coordinating law enforcement investigations.
The new online complaint system is one of a range of tools being implemented by the federal government to ensure the accessibility to meaningful information about the cost and quality of educational institutions. Most institutions have an onsite VA representative to answers any and all questions. Be deliberate in your search for information, ensuring a smooth pursuit of education once the institution has been decided upon.
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Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.