Government Affairs

UPCEA Urges Passage of Online Veteran Student Support Bill in Response to COVID-19

March 19, 2020

UPCEA, along with ACE, and almost 50 other organizations wrote a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy asking the House to approve a bill ensuring veterans continue to receive their GI bill benefits when campuses move courses online due to COVID-19. S. 3503 would grant the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the authority to continue to provide education benefits for veterans when approved programs of education at colleges and universities are moved online due to an emergency or health-related situation. This authority would be available immediately and would extend through December 21, 2020.

In light of Coronavirus challenges, many campuses are working quickly to stand up online classroom instruction as a way to protect students and campus communities and limit contagion. However, moving programs of education online has the potential to significantly and negatively impact the ability of veterans to receive GI bill benefits. As just one example, under current Post-9/11 GI Bill rules, student veterans taking courses online typically receive only half the housing allowance of their on-campus peers. Because most veteran students and their families have already made housing arrangements, including signing leases for the current semester or term, a drastic cut in their living expenses would be a considerable hardship during these already difficult times. We strongly support efforts to ensure that veterans’ educational benefits are not impacted by campus efforts to move coursework online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the uncertainty as to when and how these issues will be addressed is particularly hard on our military connected students. Therefore, we call on passage of the bipartisan Senate legislation. We stand ready to work with you and the VA to address other issues impacting military-connected students during these unprecedented times.

Click here to read the full letter.

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