Managing COVID-19 Disruption: GI Bill Benefits At Risk As Schools Transition Online – Consumer Protection

Managing COVID-19 Disruption: GI Bill Benefits At Risk As Schools Transition Online – Consumer Protection

March 19, 2020 Off By administrator


United States:

Managing COVID-19 Disruption: GI Bill Benefits At Risk As Schools Transition Online


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As schools across the country respond to unprecedented
challenges caused by COVID-19, students and veterans who rely on
the Post-9/11 GI Bill’s educational assistance could see those
benefits reduced or paused without legislative action.

In a recent announcement, the US Department of Veterans
Affairs (the VA) outlined the impact on student benefits in three
scenarios:

  • School temporarily closes: If a school
    temporarily closes because of an emergency, the VA will continue to
    pay benefits (including full housing allowances) for up to four
    weeks in a 12-month period.

  • School with approval for online program shifts to
    online courses
    : If a school shifts its in-person courses
    to online courses, student veterans will continue to receive
    benefits through the end of the term only if the school’s state
    approving agency (SAA) has given the school approval to offer such
    programs online. If programs remain solely online for additional
    terms, student veterans’ housing allowance would be reduced to
    50% of the national average of the US Department of Defense’s
    basic allowance for housing for an E-5 with dependents, which is
    consistent with the amount the VA typically provides for online
    programs.

  • School without approval for online program shifts to
    online courses
    : If a school shifts its in-person courses
    to online courses, but does not have the SAA’s approval to
    offer such programs online, student veterans enrolled in those
    programs will stop receiving payments of all education benefits
    (including housing allowances) as soon as they begin their training
    online.

To protect these benefits from being reduced or paused,
legislation has been introduced in both the US House and
Senate
that is intended to protect these benefits. Both bills
would allow – but not require – the VA to continue
providing the same level of benefits to students enrolled in
programs shifted online due to a health emergency, whether or not
the program was approved by the SAA for online delivery. We will
continue to track this legislation and provide updates as
warranted.

The VA is preparing additional guidance for schools that have
changes in training modalities and operation status due to
COVID-19, and it has requested schools temporarily refrain from
making any adjustments to their enrollment certifications if
training has changed due to COVID-19. In addition, the VA has
invited school certifying officials and SAAs to attend a webinar on March 19 to…

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