Everything seems up in the air right now because of COVID-19. Schools have canceled classes or have moved to an online setting. And because of this, student veterans are going to be impacted.
The good news is that there is legislation that will help. The Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 was introduced in the House on 3/23/2020 and was passed by the House on 3/31/2020. If made into law, this Bill can help out student veterans in a few different ways.
Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020
The Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 has more than 51 cosponsors and wide VSO support. It expands on the language in S.3503, which “authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to continue to provide educational assistance through December 21, 2020, for programs of education that have been converted to distance learning due to an emergency or health-related situation. Such assistance includes monthly housing stipends or subsistence allowances.”
“As we respond to the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot forget about our student veterans. This bill package will make key fixes so veterans can continue their studies without interruption, loss of income, or unexpected bills,” said Chairman Takano. “Under this bipartisan legislation, we can ensure no students have their housing cut off, lose their work study payment, exhaust their disaster housing stipend continuation payments, or lose their benefits due to a school closure from COVID-19.”
What is in this new legislation? Here is a summary:
Work-Study During Emergencies- Student veterans that work through the VA’s work-study program will lose important income. The bill will give the VA latitude to continue paying the students who lost their position on campus due to COVID-19.
Expands Protections For Student Veterans During Emergencies-The VA can continue issuing housing and allowance to student veterans for up to four weeks during a term if the school closes. This bill will build on that to cover all emergency situations, such as our current COVID-19 pandemic. It also will allow this protection to be triggered once every 6 months, which is down from 12, and creates a separate four week, uncharged period for this current situation.
Bridges Digital Divide-Since not all schools or students can make the transition to online-only classes, this legislation will restore the interrupted term or semester of the student’s education benefit. Student veterans will continue to receive their housing benefits and their GI Bill eligibility won’t be charged for any uncompleted classes because of this crisis.
Veterans Are Not Penalized For Emergency Situations-This will stop the eligibility clock for student veterans and eligible dependents during the crisis.
Extends School Closure Protections to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Veterans-Protections would also be for veterans in the VR&E program whose schools have closed or whose programs have been terminated because they could not be moved to online learning. This will allow the VA to pay housing and subsistence allowance through the end of a term and prevent veterans from losing their eligibility time when they did not receive credit for their classes. It would also provide two additional months of subsistence allowance to those in the program who may face issues with securing employment because of COVID-19s impact on near-term employment prospects.
As you can see this legislation should be able to help out student veterans during this time. As of April 6th, 2020, the bill still needs to be passed by the Senate.