Senate passes emergency bill protecting GI Bill benefits as colleges go online
Stars and Stripes
By NIKKI WENTLING
Published: March 17, 2020
Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee, the ranking Republican of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced a bill last week that also would guarantee the housing stipends for student veterans remain unchanged during the outbreak.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., asks questions to witnesses during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Looking on at right is committee Chairman Jerry Moran, R-Kansas.
CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES
WASHINGTON — The Senate approved a measure late Monday that would ensure student veterans continue to receive full GI Bill benefits, even as colleges go online-only in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
GI Bill recipients rely on monthly stipends from the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay for housing, food and other bills. Those payments are higher for students who attend physical classes as opposed to online coursework. As classes began to move online last week to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, tens of thousands of student veterans faced the possibility of losing their benefits or seeing drastic cuts to their monthly checks.
The Senate approved an emergency fix by voice vote that would allow students to retain the amount of benefits they received when they started the semester. It gives the VA Secretary broad authority to ensure GI Bill benefits are distributed without interruption during national emergencies.
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