Students Using GI Bill May Lose 1/2 Housing Stipend due to COVID

Students Using GI Bill May Lose 1/2 Housing Stipend due to COVID

Post 9/11 GI Bill (PGIB) is one of the largest and most generous expansions of post-secondary educational subsidies ever enacted in the United States. It incorporates payments of educational costs and fees, a month-to-month lodging reimbursement and an allowance for books and supplies for eligible students for up to three years. 

The PGIB mainly covers fees and tuition for students at public universities, as its reach is broader at those institutions; however, private and for-profit colleges may not have the same types of coverage and benefits.

As many parents of college-age children know, the Coronavirus outbreak has forced the closure of many colleges and universities across the country. In many universities, students don’t know how their classes will be conducted or can attend classes in person again.

GI Bill benefits allow veterans to attend school for free or significantly reduced cost and help significantly with housing costs. Still, one stipulation of this long-standing program is that students attend classes in person. The housing allowance is approximately 50% lower than those taking in-person classes for students enrolled in online classes. Veteran students faced a potentially debilitating financial challenge as campuses closed, and benefits decreased. Many classes moved to the online environment.

Veterans Affairs was given the ability to continue providing PGIB benefits to students during the COVID-19 crisis in the spring of 2020. These laws aimed to help those recipients who COVID was negatively impacted.  

According to special COVID laws issued by VA authorities last year, the VA will continue to pay students some education benefits (including MHA) at the resident rate until Dec 21, 2021. After this date, only resident-approved courses or converted classes will qualify for the full amount of the benefits. A converted class is a class that was previously an in-seat environment and changed to online because of COVID.

One in four veterans who pursue a post-secondary degree through GI Bill benefits has children, and over half are first-generation college students. In IAVA's latest member survey, 93% of its members said they have used their PGIB benefits or are planning to do so. Seventy-nine percent agree that the PGIB is essential to military recruitment, and 87% believe it is extremely important for a successful transition to civilian life.