FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tanya Ang, Vice President, (202) 838-5050
March 19, 2020
Congress Clears Important COVID-19 Fix for GI Bill and other VA-Funded Students
WASHINGTON, DC: This morning, Congress cleared an important COVID-19 fix for GI Bill and other VA-funded students. Specifically, with the coronavirus causing many colleges to shift their classes to online in order to keep students at home and not spreading germs, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determined that it would be required under the GI Bill statute to reduce students’ housing allowance by half and possibly defund entire programs that had not been previously-approved to offer online education. Given that many GI Bill students are older than the traditional idea of a college student and are supporting families in regular housing, outside of dormitories, a housing cut of 50% would have caused undue hardship to many military-connected students.
Veterans Education Success, Student Veterans of America, and other veteran and military service organizations partnered together to ensure military-connected students were adequately protected. We worked with Congressional Committee staff to quickly draft legislation, and then spent the past week securing bipartisan agreement to move the legislation quickly. On March 16, 2020, the US Senate cleared the provision and on March 19, the US House of Representatives passed the provision via unanimous consent. The measure now moves to the President, where signature and enactment is expected.
“We are thankful to Congress for passing this vital legislation that protects GI Bill students from being inadvertently harmed during a time of crisis in our country. We are relieved military-connected students are now free from the burden of worry with their housing allowance and can concentrate on protecting their families and community, while they attempt to finish their studies from a distance.” -Tanya Ang, Vice President.
VA has asked schools not to change any student’s enrollment status until receiving further guidance.
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About Veterans Education Success
Veterans Education Success is a veteran advocacy organization whose mission is to advance higher education success for veterans, service members, and military families, and to protect the integrity and promise of the GI Bill and other federal education programs. The organization offers free legal services, advice, and college and career counseling to servicemembers, veterans, their survivors, and families using federal education benefits – and helps them participate in their democracy by engaging with policymakers. Veterans Education Success also provides policy expertise to federal and state policymakers, and conducts non-partisan research on issues of concern to student veterans, including student outcomes and debt levels. Additional information is available at www.vetsedsuccess.org.