The VA understands and has prepared for the many impacts COVID-19 can have on students, on-line schooling and institutions of higher learning. While every student situation is different and there are many unknowns with regards to the pandemic, VA is prepared for any increase in workload for applications and fall enrollments due to the financial and economic impacts of COVID-19 to our beneficiaries.
VA is committed to helping Veterans and their families through this national emergency. From the beginning of this crisis, we have been working with Congress to preserve GI Bill benefits for students impacted by COVID-19 during this difficult time. Two public laws were passed in the spring (PL 116-128 and PL 116-140 “Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020”) to provide benefits stability for our students whose enrollments have been impacted by COVID-19.
The new laws allow VA to pay education benefits as if the student were training in-residence regardless of the fact that a program has been converted from resident training to online training. GI Bill students who are training online in lieu of in-residence will continue to receive housing allowance payments at the resident training until December 21, 2020. This includes situations where your school is offering hybrid training (combining online and resident training) or where your school is offering the student the option to choose online training in lieu of resident training. Additionally, VA will afford these same protections to new incoming students. There is no requirement that the student have a previous history of taking resident courses. The only requirement is that the student must be enrolled in a “converted course” – a course which your school offered as resident training prior to COVID-19 but is now offering as online training due to COVID-19.
As a reminder, these laws only protect our students until December 21, 2020. If a student is enrolled solely online on December 22, 2020, VA will have to reduce their housing to the online rate, regardless of COVID-19. Also, if a work-study student is unable to work due to COVID-19, the student will no longer receive work-study benefits.
If you have any questions, please contact Tim Rochford (School Certifying Official) at firstname.lastname@example.org.