The Surge in Online Military Education Part 2
Check your 6
Online or offline, a buyer must beware. There are reports of unscrupulous online institutions attempting to take advantage of this situation. One of the most attractive features of online education is the prospect of saving money. But some schools are overcharging to the extent that there is little to no savings at all. So it is important to shop responsibly. It’s important to get the most out of any available military education benefits, even when the G.I. Bill is picking up the tab.
UPI reports, “For-profit schools lure veterans,” and that such institutions have “scooped up” $640 million, or 36% of post-Sept. 11 G.I. Bill tuition since 2008.8 On the one hand, strong competition is a positive thing. On the other, it is a highly questionable practice to overcharge, playing the system for $250 per credit because that’s the maximum amount which the G.I. Bill will compensate. Not everyone gouges the military, though, and less expensive options are available.
There is also an issue of how valuable some of these degrees actually are. Some schools have moved their headquarters to places where the accrediting is lax. And the overmarketing can get pretty intense. Don’t just trust their website: it’s important to make sure a school’s reputation is good with your own research. As with traditional colleges, not all online colleges are created equal.
If you’re thinking of taking online courses and then, do your homework first. Check out a school’s credit transfer policy. Not all schools, whether traditional or online, accept credits. Even schools that accept ACE credits don’t always accept every credit from every school.
Even with these concerns, Robert Songer (director of lifelong learning at Camp Lejeune) says that most online for-profit institutions “do a very good job taking care of students.” And this would appear to be true, if enrollment is any indication. In 2009, Camp Lejeune had 119 active duty students, up from 25 the year before.9
There is also the issue of public acceptance. Online education is a fairly new phenomenon and it is only natural that some employers should show reticence, especially if they themselves had a traditional education. Employers may be skeptical of online degrees and offer less money to start, but, as reputable online institutions, such as University of Phoenix, are quick to point out, students earning a master’s degree on the job resulted in salary increases of almost 10%.10 As time goes on, more and more graduates of online colleges will be in position to hire, and it’s likely they’ll do so without any reservations.
8 UPI, For-profit schools lure veterans, Washington, DC, Dec. 9, 2010 http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/12/09/For-profit-schools-lure-veterans/UPI-80961291926282/#ixzz1D7WPq4gt
9 Daniel Golden, For-Profit Colleges Target the Military, Bloomberg Businessweek, Dec. 30 2009, p. 1 http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_02/b4162036095366.htm
10 Ibid., p. 2