Congress Passes Emergency GI Bill Fix as Colleges Close Due to Coronavirus

By Owen Daugherty, NASFAA Staff Reporter

The House on Thursday passed emergency legislation that will ensure student veterans continue to receive the full benefits of the GI Bill as colleges and universities across the country have shifted to online-only classes in response to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Senate approved the measure, introduced by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), on Monday. The legislation will now head to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.

Without the legislation, students receiving GI Bill benefits could risk losing their aid if their programs moved online aren't authorized in a state.

Under the current statute, schools would have had to obtain state approval for each program offered through online learning; without that approval, students would lose their benefits. The bill, pending Trump’s signature, grants the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs broad authority to ensure education benefits for veterans continue without disruption during national emergencies.

NASFAA was one of more than 20 organizations from the higher education community calling on congressional leadership to pass the legislation.

“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,” American Council on Education President Ted Mitchell wrote in the letter. “We know that the uncertainty as to when and how these issues will be addressed is particularly hard on our military-connected students.”

 

Publication Date: 3/20/2020


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