You wouldn’t think that a barber school would be a hotbed of scams and schemes, but apparently it can be. A barber school in a southern state was caught defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs by stealing money from veterans’ education benefits.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill program pays schools directly to cover the tuition and fees for veterans attending those schools. To be paid, the schools need to submit a thick stack of documents, including an initial application. Once approved, they then need to provide information about the courses, the number of hours per week, the dates of enrollment, the costs and so on. Part of this is an agreement to charge veterans the same tuition and fees that civilian students pay.
That is where this particular barber school went over to the dark side. Where civilian students were charged $2,400, veterans were charged $22,400 for the course. Not only did the owner charge more for veterans, but accurate records weren’t kept, and worse, the students weren’t given their certificates of completion when they finished. The total scammed was in excess of $235,000. The government is seeking treble damages, three times that amount, as penalty.
Thankfully, not all schools engage in scams and theft like the barber school. Most are probably legit. If you want to go to school, the VA might pay for it if you qualify. Take a look at www.va.gov/education/about-gi-bill-benefits/post-9-11 for the dates and number of days of service required. On this page you’ll also find information on benefits such as payment for tuition and fees, textbooks, housing … and even moving expenses. (If you’re in a very rural area with fewer than six people per square mile, you could qualify.)
To compare the various VA educational benefits at different schools, see www.va.gov/education/gi-bill-comparison-tool. Or call the GI Bill Hotline for more information: 888-GIBILL-1 (888-442-4551).
Remember: If you see something wrong, some type of fraud or a scam or scheme, report it. It’s veterans’ benefits that you’ll be protecting.
(c) 2023 King Features Synd., Inc.
Freddy Groves – Kings Features Weekly Service