“Excellence is the gradual result of always driving to do better.” – Pat Riley
Here at VA, we’re continually striving to improve our services to Veterans. From providing world class healthcare to helping Veterans go back to school and get a degree, we are here to serve. Not only do we expect excellence from ourselves here at VA, we also hold our partners to the same standard.
If you’ve visited the GI Bill website lately you may have noticed a list of schools that have agreed to comply with something called the “Principles of Excellence.”
The Principles of Excellence are a set of guidelines with which institutions receiving federal funding, including GI Bill funding, agree to comply. The Principles were designed to help ensure that students are given the right tools to assist them in making informed decisions when choosing a school to use their hard-earned GI Bill benefits. In addition to providing valuable information, the Principles seek to help protect Veterans, service members, and their families from aggressive and deceptive marketing tactics.
Schools agreeing to comply with the Principles will:
- Provide all military and Veteran students with a personalized form covering the total cost of the educational program, pre-enrollment program costs, student debt estimates, and financial aid options
- Provide an educational plan (also called an academic plan) for all military and Veteran students
- Accommodate service members and reservists who are absent due to service requirements
- Designate points of contact for academic and financial advising
- Ensure accreditation of all new programs prior to enrolling students
Participating schools also agree to have tuition refund policies similar to schools receiving Title IV funding. This means that service members, reservists, and family members who stop attending due to service obligations will be entitled to a prorated tuition refund based upon the day the student stops attending.
Additionally, we’re developing a centralized interagency system for military and Veteran students to register complaints about schools not complying with the Principles. We want to hear your feedback and make this a better experience for you. This will help us address fraudulent activities, aggressive and deceptive recruiting practices, as well as other illegal or improper activities.
To date, over 6,000 schools have agreed to adhere to the Principles of Excellence.We have made it easy to identify participating schools by setting up a map on the GI Bill website to help find schools near you.
You have a lot of decisions to make when choosing a school or program to attend. Check out the list, and other resources, to help you on your way. If the school you are interested in isn’t on the list, talk to the school certifying official (usually in the school’s financial aid office) and request that they participate.
The GI Bill is a tremendously valuable benefit with a lifelong impact and the Principles of Excellence are intended to ensure that educational institutions are helping you maximize the value of your well-earned benefits.
Robert M. Worley is the director of VA’s Education Service.