What is the Postsecondary Education Complaint System?

The postsecondary education complaint system, also known as PECS, is a system put in place by the government to stop colleges from misleading military students and their families. This system allows you file an official complaint about a school because it misled you about what you could do with your degree or outright lied to you about the credits required or program costs. The system allows you to file a complaint in several different ways and for any problems you encounter while in the military or after retiring.

Resource: Top 15 Online Colleges for Military and G.I. Bill 2015

Reasons for Filing a Complaint

You can file a complaint through PECS for any issue you have with an institute of higher learning. Some schools that cater to military students promise lots of financial aid but then require that students take out a lot of private loans that have high interest rates. You might lodge a complaint because the college told you that you could take classes online or through the mail but did not offer the classes you needed. Other reasons for lodging a complaint include problems with transferring credits, completing a degree or finding a job after graduation.

Why File a Complaint?

There are two main reasons for filing a complaint through the postsecondary education complaint system. The first reason is because you want to protect yourself. Depending on the outcome of your complaint, you may receive credits back on the GI Bill benefits that you used or a reduction in your student loan debt. The other reason for filing a complaint is because you want to protect others. A college that preys on military students will keep advertising, going after other students and taking advantage of your fellow service men and women without facing any consequences. Filing a complaint can protect yourself and others.

How to File

According to DOD Live, you can file a complaint and provide feedback in one of several ways. It recommends going through the Department of Defense if you get tuition assistance or the Veterans Affairs Office if you used the GI Bill for college. DOD Live also states that you can file a complaint with the Department of Education or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will investigate all claims, and the Department of Education will investigate claims submitted by students who receive government financial aid in the form of grants or loans.

What Happens Next

Once you file a complaint, the department you filed with will initiate an investigation. That department will determine whether to ignore your complaint or move forward. If it moves forward, it can send that information to the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission. Both of those departments can bring formal charges against that institution. You may need to provide more information, including emails received from the college or copies of your financial aid documents. Depending on the outcome, the college may lose its accreditation, its right to award degrees or its ability to accept and provide students with federal aid.

Military programs offer students in the military the chance to earn a degree before retiring. Some of these schools prey on those students and make them take out large loans or provide them with worthless degrees. If you have issues or problems with a college you attended, you can file a complaint with the postsecondary education complaint system (PECS) for investigation.