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Being an Informed Education Consumer

Pursuing a postsecondary education can be costly. Researching potential schools is a critical piece in making sound decisions as an informed education consumer. Learn more about what to research to make the right decision about where to attend.

You might be considering postsecondary education for the first time, or you may be returning to school after some time away to raise a family or for other obligations. With so many postsecondary study options, you will need to conduct research to become an informed education consumer.

You may be interested in a traditional four-year institution or you may choose nontraditional formats, often a more appealing option for the mobile military life. Regardless of the type of institution you prefer, you can be confident you are receiving a good value and a return on investment for your education experience if you make informed choices.

Executive Order 13607

In 2012, the President of the United States signed Executive Order 13607 into law, establishing Principles of Excellence for education institutions serving the military community. Reports of aggressive and deceptive targeting of veterans, service members and their families by some education institutions since the Post 9/11 GI Bill® became law in 2008 prompted the principles, which aim to ensure the following:

  • Provide meaningful information about the financial cost and quality of education for making choices about how to use federal educational benefits, including My Career Advancement Account
  • End abusive, fraudulent, deceptive and unduly aggressive recruiting techniques on and off military installations, as well as misrepresentation, payment of incentive compensation and failure to meet state authorization requirements
  • Provide high-quality academic and student support services

Before enrollment, education institutions must provide the following information:

  • Personalized financial form to help you understand the total cost of the education program, including tuition and fees; amount of the total cost covered by federal educational benefits; the type and amount of possible financial aid; and estimated student loan and debt upon graduation
  • Availability of federal financial aid
  • Approval of the institution's accrediting agency for course or program offerings before enrolling students in such courses or programs
  • Education plan detailing the requirements necessary to graduate and the expected timeline of completion
  • Point of contact for academic and financial advising to assist you with the successful completion of your studies and with your job search

Gainful employment data

To be eligible for federal funding, an education program must lead to a degree or must prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. For the criteria on eligibility requirements, visit the Department of Education.

The 2011 Gainful Employment Spreadsheet provides information about education programs that prepare students for employment in a recognized occupation. Current regulations require the U.S. Department of Education to calculate gainful employment data each year to include repayment rates, debt-to-earnings ratios and student loan medians.

College Scorecard

College Scorecard is an interactive tool that allows you to search for information about postsecondary institutions by location, areas of interest, size, campus setting, regions, awards and types of learning environments. You can use the College Scorecard to find out more about the affordability and value of colleges you may want to attend.

You can also visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS for local information about your adult education center. Enter 'Adult Education Centers' under the 'program or service' drop-down menu and your installation or ZIP code to find a point of contact. At your installation adult education center, you can find information on education opportunities that will help you make an informed decision on where to receive your postsecondary schooling. If you need additional information on preparing for school, you can visit the Education, Training and Licensing lifecycle stage of MySECO or speak with a career coach at 800-342-9647.

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