Note: Updated March 19 with House vote.
The House of Representatives on March 19 passed a Senate measure that will support GI Bill beneficiaries facing financial uncertainty connected to the coronavirus outbreak.
MOAA on March 12 joined dozens of veterans and student advocacy groups, as well as educational institutions, in asking congressional leaders to back such a measure. In a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees, the groups pushed for “a bipartisan bill that clarifies VA’s authority to administer VA education benefits by considering on-site courses as continuing on-site” even if the schools have moved to distance learning.
A Senate bill with these provisions, S. 3503, was introduced March 16 by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), two of the letter’s recipients. It was passed without amendment by a voice vote and sent to the House, where it passed without objection the morning of March 19. It now goes to the president for signature.
MOAA’s support for this legislation is part of broader efforts to ensure the GI Bill benefit remains strong for all who’ve earned it. Specifically, this legislation would help veterans whose in-residence GI Bill benefits – both tuition and housing allowances – could stop if their coursework moves online. Students receiving hybrid-learning benefits, meaning their classwork can take place both in person and online, could see a major reduction in housing benefits if their classes stay online entering their next term.
“Military-connected students cannot help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by staying home if they lose those homes due to disrupted benefits,” the letter states.