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Emergency federal legislation signed into law will guarantee veterans attending colleges and universities on the GI Bill continue receiving full tuition and monthly housing payment benefits as their courses move online because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The measure introduced by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., was signed over the weekend by President Donald Trump. Without the reform, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said, veterans faced the possibility of losing educational assistance because the agency was required to link benefits to in-class courses rather than online classes.
“Our country is facing uncertain times and no one is unaffected,” said Moran, chairman of the Senate’s veterans affairs committee. “Congress’ quick action to move this bill to the president’s desk provides a needed certainty for student veterans, their families and the men and women still currently serving during this time.”
Tester, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the bipartisan remedy reflected the necessity of shifting curriculum to online platforms rather than continue to gather students together in classrooms. The adjustment applies to veterans, their dependents and service members using GI Bill benefits, he said.
Jared Lyon, president of Student Veterans of America, said 70 organizations and schools were part of campaign to bring urgent action on the bill.
Thousands of student veterans will be able to focus on the health and welfare of themselves and their families without worrying about loss of benefits, said Patrick Murray, the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ deputy director of national legislative service.
“Veterans enrolled in on-site career classes would have lost up to 50% of their living allowance when schools followed orders to transition to on-line delivery through no fault of theirs or their school,” said Steve Gunderson, president of Career Education Colleges and Universities.