You don’t have the time or money to waste on education or training that won’t help you meet your goals. Not all schools deliver on their promises, and some care more about their own bottom line than getting you qualified for a career.
- First, research what you want to do for a living.
- Use the Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill Comparison Tool to research the schools that offer what you need. Look for:
- the graduation rate. How many students are successfully completing programs at those schools?
- the cost. The benefits calculator can tell you how much your benefits will cover.
- the loan default rate. Look up the share of students who have paid some of their debt within three years of leaving school. A high default rate could mean graduates have too much debt or they can’t get jobs in their field. Either is a warning sign to look elsewhere for your degree.
- how much money you could make. The outcomes section will show the typical salary for graduates of this school 10 years after they first enroll.
- The school’s accreditation. The summary section can tell you whether a school has national or regional accreditation. Accreditation can affect your ability to transfer credits from that school to another one. Regional accreditation is often more beneficial to you; some institutions may not accept credit from a school with national accreditation.
- The Department of Education’s College Navigator can tell you whether a school is a a non-profit or for profit. Unlike non-profit educational institutions, for-profits generate earnings for their owners. Some schools may stretch the truth to persuade you to enroll.
- Get some real-life experience with the school you’re considering.
- Sit in on some classes. Are the students engaged?
- Talk to student veterans and recent graduates. What do they think of the school? Did the school help them reach their goals?
- Student Veterans of America (SVA) can connect you to veterans through their local chapters. They can give first-hand feedback on a school’s track record for supporting veterans. Check the GI Bill Comparison Tool to find an SVA chapter at a school.
- You might be able to get credit for your military training. Ask the school if they take credits from these programs. The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) for the military has tests you can take for college credit. The American Council on Education lets you search for the military training you’ve had, and see if you can get college credit for it.
- Call the Registrar of the school you’re interested in transferring to and the department for the subject you want to study there. Re-confirm that your college credits will transfer. That’s your best guide to whether your coursework will get you where you want to be.
- Read the school’s enrollment contract before you commit. Get the documents a few days before signing so you can review. If they won’t give them to you in advance, don’t enroll. Is everything they promised written into the contract? If not, it’s not binding.